Vehicle tax. This is one thing no one wants to pay, but that everyone with a car is required to do – including HGVs and those with a C+E licence. Only purely electric vehicles or cars are able to escape the strict DVLA tax, and due to their high price tag, there are not many of them out on the roads just yet. Last year, 2018, was an especially bad year when it comes to vehicle tax evasion, which is why the DVLA has been recently cracking down so hard. But what exact steps have they been taking, and have they been effective?

Why the Action?

Vehicle tax evasion is tracked very carefully by the DVLA, and throughout 2018 it was discovered that evasion has been on the rise. There were eleven UK locations in particular that had the highest evasion rates (based on the enforcement actions that have been taken), and include the following:

– Coventry
– Leicester
– Bristol
– Nottingham
– Cardiff
– Sheffield
– Glasgow
– Manchester
– Birmingham
– Northern Ireland
– London

To put this into perspective, in 2018 alone there were 464,000 enforcement actions in London on untaxed vehicles, that ranged from clamping to fines. If we make the assumption that each of these vehicles was required to pay tax on one of the bands in the middle (approximately £150 per year), that amounts to the DVLA losing £69,600,000 in revenue, which goes to improving and maintaining our national roads system. Now you can understand why the DVLA has been so keen on catching those who are not paying their fair share!

What Action Are They Taking?

Their efforts have centred around one single campaign of: ‘tax it or lose it’ DVLA enforcement agents are searching the country for untaxed vehicles as well as spreading this message. Multiple advertising campaigns are being run in each of the ‘hotspot’ areas, including social media, websites, poster sites, printed publications, and radio – which have all been designed to get motorists to think twice about not having their vehicles taxed. They even have a DVLA vehicle with a gigantic (and we do mean gigantic – it is taller than the vehicle) clamp that is attached to the car that states ‘tax it or we will clamp it.’ This is being done to raise awareness of the issues that surround untaxed vehicles and encourage people to make sure their HGV, van, or car is taxed properly.

It has been working so far. To date, the DVLA has clamped more than 9,000 vehicles as part of its campaign, and they are only just beginning. So keep their motto in mind.

What Is the Penalty?

Are you aware of the punishment you could be faced with if you are caught driving an untaxed vehicle? The specific penalty will depend on how long it is left untaxed and can include:

– An £80 fine imposed by the DVLA for driving without paying the road tax (which may be cut in half it is paid within 28 days).

– If this fine is not paid, it increases the fine up to five times of what your annual road tax or a maximum of £1,000.

– If you are caught physically driving without having paid the road tax, then a fixed penalty notice will be issued to you of up to £1,000 that is payable on the spot.

– If you knowingly allow someone else to drive your vehicle without a road tax, it could result in a fine up to £1,000 for both the driver and you, or £2,500 if the vehicle is carrying 8 or more passengers.

– Driving a vehicle that is due to have a higher road tax rate without paying it may result in a penalty of 5 times the vehicle’s annual road tax or £1,000.

– If you drive without paying the tax that also means that your vehicle can be impounded or clamp, which will result in you needing to pay a release fee. If your vehicle does get clamped, you will have to pay the tax on your car within 24 hours, in addition to a £100 release fee and a surety deposit of £160 to £700, which will depend on the type of vehicle you have, which will be returned to you within 2 weeks of you paying the tax.

The DVLA is doubling its efforts in high-evasion areas, clamping offending vehicles and issuing fines. So although your car tax might be expensive, it is definitely true that not paying the tax will much more costly!