The Fixer: Vehicle tax and off road cars

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Dear Fixer,
I am going to work in Spain for a year from August and am in the middle of preparing my financial affairs.

The contract is for one year only so I know that I will definitely be coming home next summer. I also know that I will need a car at that point, which means that I would prefer to keep my current car rather than selling it and buying another one.

Storage is not a problem as my parents have a farm where they are happy for me to leave the car. My father can even drive it around the field every so often to ensure it is still in good working order.

I do not, however, want to pay to tax and insure a car that neither I nor anyone else will be using if I can avoid it.

Can I get out of paying vehicle tax? Your advice would be very welcome.

N Hathaway, Oxford

Dear Mr Hathaway,

You do not have to pay road tax, or display a tax disc, on a car that is not kept or used on public roads.

You can't just decide to take a car off the roads and stop paying tax on it without informing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Association (DVLA), though.

Instead, you must register the vehicle as off road by sending in a completed Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Otherwise, you risk a number of penalties, including an automatic fine of £80, a County Court Judgement and a further fine of £1,000 or more.

The good news, however, is that making a SORN for your car will mean that you can also avoid paying insurance, which is now compulsory for all vehicles that are registered but are not declared as off road.

You can find out more about SORNs by clicking here. Just remember that when you get back to the UK next year, you will need to apply for and receive a new tax disc before taking your car on the roads again.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to themoneyfixer@aim.com and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.