back to article DVLA misses out on £400m in tax after scrapping paper discs

The UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) collected £400m less in tax during the first 12 months of moving paper tax discs online, according to a Freedom of Information response. From October 2014 to September 2015, the DVLA collected £5.71bn in vehicle excise duty, £412m lower than in the previous 12 months - …

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  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

    Untaxed vehicle drives past ANPR camera. Local enforcement wardens are notified. Car located. Towed and impounded. Only returned after tax and fine are paid (no cheques).

    Car is sold at auction after 4 weeks otherwise.

    Simples.

    So *why* in the name of all that is holy is there so much hand-wringing.

    In other news, police to "patrol" Facebook and Twitter with jail sentences for people who say nasty things.

    (p.s. if you are caught using a smartphone driving ... see the first paragraph of this post).

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      Even better launch a game - take a picture of a car registration with your phone, check against DVLA database and if it comes back "no tax" or wrong model/colour etc then automatically report location and time to local enforcement. I could have field day in the local multi-storey. Sort of real world pokemon.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Pokemon go..

        true .... if the Great British public put 1/100th the effort they put into Pokemon Go ....

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Pokemon go..

          I am still trying to find out why the three words "tax collection failure" brings out the raving fascist in the most normal individuals. Pavlovian reflex instilled during a lifetime of being fed state propaganda?

          Further experiments are needed!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pokemon go..

            Comrade, have you again forgotten your pills today?

      2. Mutton Jeff

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        Even better, pay a bounty on each tax dodging car owner.

        Snoopers economy?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Tax dodger bounty hunters; do they get to dress like Jango Fett?

        2. tinytony

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Is that dead or alive ?

        3. Haku
      3. Neill Mitchell

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        "Even better launch a game - take a picture of a car registration with your phone, check against DVLA database and if it comes back "no tax" or wrong model/colour etc"

        Even better - make it a requirement to have a little round piece of paper located in the windscreen for all to see, that shows if the vehicle is taxed. You could even buy it online.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Even better - make it a requirement to have a little round piece of paper located in the windscreen for all to see, that shows if the vehicle is taxed. You could even buy it online.

          Easy enough to falsify for casual inspection. The only real check is against the DVLA database. Personally I'm rather pleased to see the back of paper discs, and the introduction of monthly direct debit payment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

            "Easy enough to falsify for casual inspection"

            One year there was a tax disc that looked very like a Guinness bottle label.

            1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

              Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

              "One year there was a tax disc that looked very like a Guinness bottle label."

              In one of his books David Niven claimed that during a broke period he'd used a Guiness bottle label instead of a tax disc.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                "In one of his books David Niven claimed that during a broke period he'd used a Guiness bottle label instead of a tax disc."

                I remember once seeing a car with a Newcastle Brown label in the windscreen :-)

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          "Even better - make it a requirement to have a little round piece of paper located in the windscreen for all to see"

          I do this purely to remind myself when the VED runs out. I once drive for about a month without VED paid as I'd completely forgotten it was due. The monthly direct debit sounds like an even better idea.

      4. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        Even better launch a game - take a picture of a car registration with your phone, check against DVLA database and if it comes back "no tax" or wrong model/colour etc then automatically report location.....

        Half of this is in place, in that the DVLA MoT and tax checker is publicly available - you just need make and reg to check the tax status, and there's an online form to report where you saw the vehicle:

        https://www.gov.uk/report-untaxed-vehicle

        Part of me says pay a reward for reports leading to tax recovery, the other half says that's too Stasi-like.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Have you lived under a communist regime?

          Do you really know what it is like?

          I did, and must be said is not fun.

          Likely the untaxed vehicle is also uninsured.

          So who wants to have a dear friend or a family member in a hit-and-run by uninsured driver, likely DUI (sorry, can't help use the Americanism)?

          I suspect - nobody.

          So please, no more Stasi references.

          1. Jemma Silver badge

            Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

            If you see a bright orange Tatra T2 603 going cheap let me know (orange cos its not a good idea to leave them black as they were used by Soviet bloc security forces, people have long memories). A V8 VW beetle with petrol fired central heating, what's not to like but remember the carbon monoxide alarm!

            As for the getting shot of the paper discs, everyone could see this coming, except DVLA. Add to that a DVLA computer system that consists of daisy chained ZX Spectrums and a call center straight out of Dilbert and it's only going to get worse..

            You're actually more likely to be hit by a tired driver or hit because you were walking out into the road engrossed in your phone or arrogantly assuming traffic light controlled crossings don't apply to you. It annoys me no end when someone whines about a family member getting killed by a drunk driver - and two minutes later you find out said Darwin Award nominee was cycling at 3am with no lights down a road that even locals avoid in the daylight because it's so dangerous.. That's about where my sympathy dries up. Given the standard of driving instructors around here I'd rather take my chances with a load of chronic alcoholics driving Hellcats than the average stone cold sober Bini basher.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

              It annoys me no end when someone whines about a family member getting killed by a drunk driver - and two minutes later you find out said Darwin Award nominee was cycling at 3am with no lights down a road that even locals avoid in the daylight because it's so dangerous..

              I have never driven a car before with any alcohol in my blood, and we're talking well over 4 decades worth of driving anything from pizza bikes to 50 tons HGVs, some at legally permitted speeds of well over 200 km/h.

              It's pretty simple: you KNOW your driving will be impaired if you drink, so if you harm or kill anyone with alcohol in your system you can not really claim a lack of intention and you should suffer the full consequences and no, I don't accept any affluenza defences for that either (you should not be given access to 2 tonnes worth of killing equipment if you're not capable of comprehending consequences)..

              1. Jemma Silver badge

                Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                Yes, you're completely correct, but it's immaterial whether you're stoned/pissed out of your box or sober.. If you can't see a cyclist or pedestrian because they're wearing black on a bike in pitch black on a single track country road in the middle of nowhere, with a speed differential of up to 50mph they deserve everything they get, it's common bloody sense. I built my autocycle on the basis that it was economical transport, environmentally friendly and could travel (with a tuned pipe at 35-37mph on the flat and just under 30 uphill) at a reasonable speed compared to traffic - I upgraded brakes and lights to the absolute best I could get... Result I'm not dead (notwithstanding the attempts of local Audi drivers).

                Ditto the idiots who just wander out in the road as if the 2 tonne BMW SUV driven by a pint sized lass who can barely see over the dashboard doesn't exist.

                Then you have the mindless idiot who was towing her two kids down the middle of a busy road in rush hour in the middle of a snowstorm (more like rush slither) and had "done nothing wrong".

                It's scientific fact by the way that you are more likely to case a major crash from tiredness than you are from being ratted, simply because in a lot of cases drivers don't realise they are losing concentration until they've buried their landrover in the front of a class 66. Even the traffic reichpiglets admit this, but since you can't test for tiredness, at least not in any quantifiable way, it's easier to put the boot into drug & drink drivers.. Ably supported by "grieving mothers" who conveniently forget to mention the bit where little-miss-whole-life-in-front-of-her had the attention span of a goldfish, the spacial awareness of a narcoleptic sloth, and may or may not have been out of her gourd as well. It's collectively better for the human race that they're removed from the gene pool anyway.

                Why do you think tachographs and monitoring systems were installed in trucks and coaches - it wasn't for fun, it was because tired drivers are the most dangerous, so they were made mandatory in those vehicles to combat tiredness. I'd like to see tachographs put in all cars, and the UK made entirely free of booze for a year - I'll bet money the highest reduction will be from tachographs, not lack of alcohol.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                  The highest reduction _WOULD_ be from tachygraphs - because we've already had a huge reduction in DUIs (the only people who do it now either do so unintentionally or are the hardcore who've been doing it for years and believe they'll never be caught - the latter being almost entirely a rural phenomenon in most countries.)

                  In any case, what you're arguing for is the removal of human driver entirely (robots don't get tired, don't get distracted by the cute ass on the girl walking by or the kids in the back fighting, don't get tunnel vision and don't miss one hazard whilst concentrating on another.)

                2. Ian Emery Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                  "If you can't see a cyclist or pedestrian because they're wearing black on a bike in pitch black on a single track country road in the middle of nowhere,"

                  Had this several times on a narrow, twisty lane near where I was working, 2am on a call out and a bike comes around the corner with no lights on, see's me and dives into the ditch.

                  Mind you, at 20MPH, I had a good chance of stopping, my really closest miss was on a dual carriageway near midnight; while overtaking a slower car, I came over the brow of a hill at ~ 70mph - and found a guy in a mobility scooter in the middle of the outside lane, weaving his way home from the pub.

                  To this day, I dont know how I missed him.

                  Not a coat, but newly browned trousers

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                Don't go victim-blaming you piece of scum!

                Wake up to reality - people get run over on zebra crossings, traffic lights when it is green (for pedestrians), getting T-boned while having fluoro green vest and having right of way when riding bicycle/motorcycle, lollipop ladies being knocked at school crossings - you name it.

                Often by either sober drivers who don't pay attention or equally drunk as a skunk drivers.

                It isn't just people with a death wish who get killed on the road.

                Nincompoops like you should be made to work as a porter at a major trauma A&E to see the outcome of RTC to pedestrians and cyclists.

                See if you can keep your breakfast in the stomach next time you see someone mashed up.

                1. Jemma Silver badge

                  Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                  Sorry kiddo, I worked in two hospitals and have seen the result of accidents so understand this because I'll only say it once.

                  If someone driving a car mashes someone as you so delightfully put it by their own mistake, pissed or sober, or by deliberate stupidity then by all means, the "mashee" is the victim and the person behind the wheel should be dealt with accordingly.

                  However if the mashee walks out into traffic oblivious, and gets hit, or is distracted and gets hit or is drunk or drugged up and gets "mashed" then it's their fault and the driver should not be punished. I've had people walk out in front of my bike despite the fact it sounds like a wasp being played through a guitar amp. I had a pretty Chinese teenager decide she was going to walk out onto a light controlled crossing when it was my right of way and if I hadn't been watching her going to cross she'd have been mashed - but that's not a victim that's an idiot waiting to breed.

                  Stop blaming the driver for everything (they're probably traumatised enough already if they've just reduced a teenager to wallpaper paste), it takes two, or more, to cause an accident and I'd like to see police instigate breathalysers for pedestrians in accidents - I'll bet the results will be interesting.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                    " I had a pretty Chinese teenager decide she was going to walk out onto a light controlled crossing when it was my right of way"

                    Unlike the USA, pedestrians ALWAYS have right of way on UK roads except where expressly prohibited (motorways, etc)

                    The lights are advisory, not regulatory.

                    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                      "Unlike the USA, pedestrians ALWAYS have right of way on UK roads except where expressly prohibited (motorways, etc)"

                      Although that's true most of the time, wandering randomly through moving traffic probably isn't a good idea, especially when drunk or just being stupid and running out into a road, and that will be taken into account.

                      Likewise, obstructing the highway is an offence punishable by a fine. You could argue that a pedestrian running out into the road without warning doesn't have right of way but is causing an obstruction. Pedestrians, and I one too, as well as a driver!) might legally have the right of way, but they also have a duty of care to themselves and others.

                      1. thegroucho
                        Stop

                        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                        Last time I checked, apart from traffic lights (if it is red for vehicles) and pedestrian crossings that isn't quite the case.

                        Notable exception is if a vehicle turns into a side road and a pedestrian has started crossing (rule 170).

                    2. paullaz

                      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                      California is an exception:

                      21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to

                      a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or

                      within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise

                      provided in this chapter.

                  2. Ian Emery Silver badge

                    Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                    " I had a pretty Chinese teenager decide she was going to walk out onto a light controlled crossing when it was my right of way and if I hadn't been watching her going to cross she'd have been mashed"

                    That wasnt her being an idiot, that is how they cross the road in China, you walk out slowly and let the traffic flow around you, while watching for any vehicle that looks like it might not.

                    When not even the buses stop at a red light, that is the only way to get from one side of the road to the other.

                    (Hence the 300,000+ road deaths per year)

                    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                      "That wasnt her being an idiot, that is how they cross the road in China, you walk out slowly and let the traffic flow around you, while watching for any vehicle that looks like it might not."

                      Universities, at least here in the UK, mostly run special courses at or just before the start of term to teach the new foreign students a little about how life works in the UK. Crossing roads is one of the topics taught. Whether it sinks in or not is another matter.

                2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                  "Don't go victim-blaming you piece of scum!"

                  Ummm....I think you missed the point. It's not always the drivers fault. No idea of the stats and I don't really care, but your holier than thou attitude that it's always the drivers fault tells me that you are little more than an idiot yourself and probably one of those self-important morons than saunters across roads with no thought of all the people you are holding up "because it's your right". Courtesy goes both ways.

                  No one deserves to be injured or die in an RTA, but the culpability needs to be assigned justly. Why should some poor car driver have to live the rest of their life feeling the horror and guilt at having run over and killed a drunken pedestrian that runs out in front of them? Or jumped off a motorway bridge?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

                    You are entitled to your assumptions.

                    I drive, but also I think I have the right to be on the road and expect equal respect from drivers if I am cycling (no, three abreast is just selfish, not sure if two abreast is OK) or riding a motorcycle.

                    Also the number of mad and bad cyclists and the oblivious pedestrians doesn't stop to amuse me.

                    No, it is not always the drivers' fault, there has to be reasonable precaution - lights, something reflective, paying attention, defensive riding, etc.

                    Not getting drunk as a skunk behind the bars/walking.

                    I get it.

                    However the law as it stands currently puts the onus on the drivers.

                    If you can afford a tank of fuel you can afford a forward crash-for-cash camera which can exonerate the driver if it is not their fault when somebody stumbled on the road and got run over.

                    Lastly - remind me the last time when a pedestrian or cyclist killed a car driver.

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        "Even better launch a game"

        You'd need to check the VIN for extra credit (see cloning comment)

      6. David 132 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        "Be A Government Informer! Betray Your Family And Friends! Fabulous Prizes To Be Won!

        Vote Fascist For A Third Glorious Decade Of Total Law Enforcement!"

        Britain's already a nation of prodnoses and curtain twitchers, do you really want to encourage that? It would start with untaxed cars (which, by the way, I happen to agree are a menace) but would rapidly be expanded to include whatever offence is the current government's hobby-horse-du-jour. TV license evaders. People who pay the builders cash-in-hand. People who put their bins out too early.

      7. Kernel

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        "Even better launch a game - take a picture of a car registration with your phone, check against DVLA database and if it comes back "no tax" or wrong model/colour etc then automatically report location and time to local enforcement."

        Yes, and each morning school teachers could ask the kiddies what Mommy and Daddy watched on TV last night and send a list of those watching non-approved material to local Plod as well.

        Win all 'round, really.

    2. Neill Mitchell

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      Problem is with the "Car located" step. Serious dodgers have ways of getting hold of cars that have an incorrect keepers address or have been declared scrapped.

      So unless they are stopped by the Police with the power to impound the car, then driving past a noddy DVLA ANPR vehicle is of little consequence to them.

      Especially as the ones I see round my way with surprising (and I would imagine expensive) regularity all sit there with very visible flashing orange lights that can be seen way before a handy turn off.

      With a paper disc, anyone walking past the car could see it was untaxed. That in itself had a deterrent effect.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      I think you confuse VED non-compliance (and possibly driving with no insurance, possibly DUI, etc) with online bullying.

      I don't condone either.

      Do you?

    4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      I saw one of these naff police documentaries a while ago. The copper was saying that the in-car ANPR notifies them of so many suspect cars (Tax, insurance, MoT, "wanted for questioning", etc) that they ignore it a lot of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        The copper was saying that the in-car ANPR notifies them of so many suspect cars (Tax, insurance, MoT, "wanted for questioning", etc) that they ignore it a lot of the time.

        That's true. We unintentionally forgot to get one of our cars MOT'd a couple of years back, and it wasn't until we were arranging the subsequent years' test that we realised. All year long, no attention from DVLA or Plod in 11,000+ miles, despite the prevalence of ANPR and the ACPO camera network.

      2. Nifty

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        My brother got stopped on suspected insurance dodging because a person of unexpected gender was driving, he had to prove he'd just done a transfer and was indeed insured.

        1. kmac499

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Thinking about Car Sales :-

          Don't the new rules also mean the previous owner looses the balance of a month whilst the new owner has to back pay for the same month as well??.

          Relatively Trivial amounts maybe, (against the overall sale) but still annoying.

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

            "Don't the new rules also mean the previous owner looses the balance of a month whilst the new owner has to back pay for the same month as well??."

            Yes. Should boost VED receipts by just over 4%.

            From the DVLA site:

            From 2016 to 2017, our priorities will be to:

            use our assets to grow new revenue, efficiency and opportunities across government

            "grow new revenue" = steal from UK vehicle owners

      3. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Naff Police

        Are you implying that in some far off fantasy land there exists some non-naff police?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      Even better, crush the car. No appeal. The message would soon sink in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        Sell it if it is worth something, crush it otherwise.

        Use the proceeds of either to fund some road-safety initiative.

        I mean, a real one, not like the ones run by 'Brake'.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        Even better, crush the car. No appeal. The message would soon sink in

        That would assume perfect IT and even more abandoning the right of appeal a reasonably functional legal system would maintain.

        On the former - you clearly haven't been here long enough (yes, yes, back there, stop laughing we;ve all been there once, briefly), on the latter we can but dream..

    6. mark 120

      Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

      ANPR camera at every petrol station. No current record, no petrol (and maybe the drive-off barriers come up for good measure).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        ANPR camera at every petrol station. No current record, no petrol (and maybe the drive-off barriers come up for good measure).

        Loong list of problems with that one, starting with the fact that tax dodgers tend to be rather good at, umm, "borrowing" license plates of others. On the plus side, this could please UKIP as no foreign plate could get petrol either..

        1. Dan Wilkie

          Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

          Most petrol stations round our way already have ANPR cameras. So do most major roads, motorways etc.

          I don't think the petrol station ones are used for anything beyond logging cars registrations incase somebody sods off without paying though.

      2. Mutton Jeff

        Re: This should be one of the easiest taxes to collect ...

        You could then price the fuel depending on the engine size of the motor.

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