Chancellor signals the end for the UK’s car tax disc

The tax disc – the ubiquitous symbol of vehicle excise duty (VED) displayed in the bottom left hand corner of every British driver’s windshield – is to be replaced by an electronic system.

The announcement was made by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement, which featured a small number of small technological developments to both cut costs and man hours.

Vehicle tax as a whole was first introduced in the 1888 Budget at a rate of GBP 1 a year.

In 1920, the Roads Act was introduced to capture excise duty for motor vehicles.

The tax disc was introduced the following year.

Yet officials say it is no longer needed, as both the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the police now rely on an electronic register.

“Modern age”

It is understood “visual notifications” of unpaid road tax by the police has fallen by as much as 75% since 2008, and that therefore the “tax disc is no longer needed for enforcement purposes”.

A Treasury spokesman said: “This is a visual symbol of how we are moving Government into the modern age.”

“[We are] making dealing with Government more hassle-free,” the source continued.

The system

At present, UK motorists can either pay their VED in 12 or six month instalments.

Whilst the latter option costs 10% extra per year, by the time the changes come into effect it is expected to drop to 5%.

This is calculated to save the UK’s motorists over GBP 20 million each year.

In a small increase of flexibility, the new system will also allow the public to pay their VED by monthly direct debit – a previously unavailable option.

The new option is predicted to cost 5% more than paying the total each year.

People will still be able to pay for their car tax at the post office or by phone if they do not wish to start a direct debit.

The ending of the paper disc will be a part of next year’s finance bill; with the changes expected to come into force on the 1st of October 2014.

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