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Blog: Will you miss the 'car tax' disc?

Motoring journalist Maria McCarthy isn't at all pleased that the 'car tax' disc is to be abolished on 1 October 2014. How about you?

Vehicle tax disc 

I'm unashamedly old-school when it comes to technology.

I get nervous about the idea of losing the information being held on my computer and always print out hard copies of anything important.

And I'm the same with my motoring paperwork.

So I wasn't enthusiastic when I heard that the paper disc that shows you've paid your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) - commonly referred to as car, road or vehicle tax - is to be abolished.

Car tax disc abolished

The DVLA has announced that from 1 October, 2014, the paper tax disc will no longer be issued and required to be displayed on a vehicle windscreen.

Car tax will still need to be paid but records will be stored digitally so a paper tax disc will no longer be necessary as proof of payment. 

Personally, I liked my paper tax discs as I prefer to have something physical in exchange for my money. A bit like a receipt.

Even the act of removing it from its backing, making sure not to tear any of the little perforations and popping it into its holder felt quite agreeable.

Drivers lament loss of paper tax disc

And I'm not the only one. Dave Richards, editor of Classic Car Weekly says: "I will miss the disc greatly.

"Currently every car has to display a tax disc, even cars such as those used by disabled motorists and historic taxation categories that are zero-rated.

"For me, buying a secondhand car has always been informed by how many old tax discs the owner has kept.

"The more they have, the more - usually - diligent an owner they have been and so the better a prospect the car is."

But when I asked around among family and friends, it appeared that Dave and I were in the minority, with most welcoming the move to digital.

Pay car tax by direct debit from October 2014

There was also great enthusiasm at the introduction of direct debit payments for vehicle tax.

Toy car on a pile of coinFrom 1 October, 2014, motorists will have the option of paying via direct debit - either annually, biannually or monthly.

There will be no additional handling fee for annual payments, but there will be a surcharge of 5 per cent for biannual or monthly ones.

Currently motorists pay their car tax in advance, in a yearly or six-monthly instalment, with a 10 per cent surcharge for the latter.

However, despite two six-month tax discs costing more than buying a 12-month one, many motorists do so as they cannot afford the cost of paying for a whole year upfront.

Motorists welcome direct debit payments

Some 26.3 per cent of motorists buy a six-month tax disc, an exclusive poll by Confused.com in 2012 found.

Two-thirds of this number said they did so because they simply couldn't afford to pay for a full year upfront.

But 64 per cent of those who bought a six-month tax disc said they would pay by monthly direct debit if given the option.

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of direct debit payments for anything, let alone car tax, but many motorists welcome it.

"I'm all for anything easy," says Cathy Dreyer, 46, a student from Oxfordshire. "So I think the option for monthly direct debit payments is great.

"Not having to fill out forms or face the horror of a trip to the post office is such a win." 

(Don't worry, you will still be able to buy car tax in a Post Office branch after 1 October.)

Ban on transferring car tax to new owner

Another change that will take place as part of the car tax reform will affect private vehicle sales.

When a motor is sold, it will no longer be possible to transfer tax to the new owner.

The previous owner will have to reclaim the unused tax, and the new one will take on responsibility for taxing the vehicle.

So, it's goodbye to the car tax disc – it started life in 1921 and has made it to 93 before finally reaching its expiry date.

What do you think? 

Will you miss the paper car tax disc? Do you welcome the introduction of direct debit payments?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on the message board below. 

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Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy is a motoring and lifestyle journalist and author of The Girls' Car Handbook and The Girls' Guide to Losing your L Plates published by Simon and Schuster. She's also a regular on BBC Breakfast news, and local and national radio, commenting on motoring matters. Her pet motoring hates are potholes and high fuel prices.

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