Road tax: Testing the system

I managed to get myself in a wonderfully stupid situation in March. I found myself owning three cars. I found myself owning three cars that all needed road (or rather vehicle) tax at the same time. I had just purchased the Perodua Nippa for a start. That required taxing because now, when you buy a car, the new owner needs to tax it straight away.

Road Tax

Cor. Remember those funny discs we used to have?

Unfortunately for me, six months previously, I had purchased the XM. Which as the new owner, I had to tax straight away. As I could only afford six months of tax at the time, it explains why I had a second vehicle needing tax again. The 2CV was pure circumstance, though a frustrating one. I knew the MOT ran out on 15 April, but the tax ran out in March. I needed the 2CV to be on the road for an event I was organising (in which my 2CV led a convoy of other 2CVs) over the Easter weekend, so I would have to tax that too. Fortunately, the new Direct Debit system would save me from instant bankruptcy! Firstly, the Perodua needed taxing immediately, so I went online and it was all very easy to sort out. I didn’t actually tax it at the point of purchase because I couldn’t be bothered. I drove home, then went online and did it – this is only safe to do if the car you are purchasing had tax at the time of sale. If the car was SORN, you’ll be driving home in a car that shouts I’M SORN! to any passing Police car or ANPR camera. My new Perodua would simply show as taxed, as the V5 had not yet reached the DVLA to indicate a change of driver. I’m sure an arsey copper could argue that having a green slip of V5 proved that the transfer had taken place, but I’m a risky type and drove home over 100 miles without due concern. I digress. The Perodua was taxed, and two weeks later, the first payment was taken. I was glad of the breathing space, as that was after pay day! I know it was only £9.72, but every little counts. I waited a bit longer to tax the Citroens, as they already had tax in the eyes of the system. You get a couple of days grace into the following month anyway, but I went online to carry out further transactions before things got naughty. There was a further delay before £20.12 (XM) and £12.77 (2CV) left my account. In fact, it was sufficient delay for the MOT to have run out on the day the first payment went through! You do seem to get a couple of weeks delay before the Direct Debit takes your money. Naturally, by then, I had declared the 2CV SORN as there’s no point keeping a car taxed if it has no MOT. Come the end of the month, direct debits for the Nippa and XM were deducted, but there were no further payments for the 2CV. Perfect! My two weeks of motoring had cost me £12.77 and, unlike with the previous tax disc system, I had not have to apply for six months, then request a refund of five months once the MOT lapsed. In effect, I just paid for the single month I needed. For sure, it would be better if you could just pay for the actual days used (I ‘lost’ two weeks due to the MOT running out) but you know what? I’m not going to complain. Sure, there are still flaws to this system – the double-payment as buyer and seller tax a car in the same month for instance – but credit where credit is due, this new system does actually appear to work. I shall not mourn the tax disc. I removed them as soon as I could. The DVLA just might have made a step in the right direction though, so I hereby doff my hat. Thanks.

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NOTE: There is an additional 5% charge for paying by monthly direct debit. This is the same premium as choosing to pay for six months at a time. You can also choose to pay by annual direct debit.

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