Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
Thousands of drivers are being caught out by new vehicle tax rules, with a surge in the number of drivers penalised for not having valid tax, according to figures obtained by The Guardian.
The changes to the law, which included the removal of the requirement to display a tax disc on a car's windscreen, have seen an increase in the number of vehicles clamped by the DVLA due to a lack of tax. Before the new regulations came into place, the authority was clamping 5,000 vehicles a month on average, though this has now shot up to around 8,000.
Some drivers are being fined as much as £800, while others are waking to find that their cars have been towed away without warning. The issue arises from the fact that vehicle tax can no longer be transferred between car owners. While an owner should receive an automatic refund for any full months tax left on the vehicle from the DVLA, buyers must buy tax at the time of purchase, before using their new car on the road.
Despite the DVLA claiming that it has worked to ensure that the public is aware of this new requirement, many have accused the body of acting unfairly. Those caught out have no right of appeal to an independent body.
Frustrated motorists have criticised the new rules as a money spinner for the DVLA, as it ensures that it receives two tax payments in a month in which a car's ownership is transferred. A spokesperson for the authority told The Guardian: "We continue to operate a comprehensive package of measures which make vehicle tax easy to pay but hard to avoid. We know that the vast majority of motorists continue to tax their vehicles on time with over 23 million drivers taxing their vehicles since 1 October 2014.
"The changes have been widely publicised and we write to every vehicle keeper to remind them of the new rules before the vehicle tax expires. We also write to every new vehicle keeper when they buy a used vehicle to inform them that they must tax the vehicle before they use it."
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