Don’t let out of sight mean out of mind
Tax discs. Remember them? As everyone seems to be well into their old school amusements right now, it's only right we have a blast from the past in the form of the circle of paper the DVSA got rid of a year and a half ago.
Where and why did the tax disc go?
The tax disc went the way of the paper counterpart licence: in the government's recycling bin. It went because printing and sending out paper is expensive, and the DVSA was introducing a much better way of catching tax evaders digitally.
That's where the problem is
Because there's no longer a physical tax disc, a lot of people seem to think they can get away with not paying their vehicle tax. The DVSA have revealed that they saw a drop in revenue of £93 million in the first year since scrapping the disc.
They did budget for a bit of a drop - introducing direct debit as an option was going to mean a delay in getting the money from people using the 12-month plan - but they thought it would be maybe £80 million.
That's a lot of millions short.
What the DVSA says
As well as the introduction of direct debits (causing a lag in revenue collected), the DVSA has also suggested that more eco-friendly cars on the road mean lower tax payments. That's good news for the environment but bad news for the Treasury.
However, other people - including the RAC - reckon the fall in revenue is a bit too much over that £80 million budget and it needs a much more thorough investigation.
Here's the deal
Just because you don't see a physical reminder that vehicle tax exists doesn't mean you can ignore the fact that you have to pay it.
It is the law. It is The Law. Not paying your vehicle tax means you are breaking the law. If that doesn't mean all that much to you, consider this: the police now use number plate recognition that automatically scans your car and talks to the DVSA's database of vehicle tax payments.
If you're not in there, all up-to-date, you will be pulled over and very likely prosecuted. Your car can also be confiscated there and then by the police until its properly taxed.
It affects everyone
Uninsured drivers cost law-abiding insurance holders around £30 a year. This sum is built into your premium and paid to the Motor Insurers' Bureau, which covers the cost of damage caused by uninsured drivers.
It could be that people avoiding vehicle tax will have the same effect: a hike for the people that do pay it.
So, if you find yourself thinking of vehicle tax as optional...it's not, dude. It's really not and everyone around you that does pay it will not take kindly to your way of thinking.