Fleet News

Legislation: Good riddance to the tax disc

Patrick McGillycuddy, head of fleet at Škoda UK, explains why he won't miss the tax disc.

In a month’s time a national institution will be no more. From 1st October the humble paper tax disc that motorists have been sticking in windscreens for longer than most of us have been alive, will no longer be necessary. At that point, as the DVLA says, “it can be removed from the vehicle windscreen and destroyed”.

While the national newspapers and the public seem to be mourning the tax disc’s demise, I suspect there will be more than a few people in the fleet arena, and wider automotive industry, rejoicing at the prospect.

For years, fleets, car manufacturers and leasing companies have been asking for a simpler solution for handling proof of Vehicle Excise Duty.

I can understand a certain nostalgia toward the paper discs from some private car owners, and I can understand the original need to display proof of taxation - so that a policeman can easily see not only that a car has tax, but also that it’s for the right year due to the colour-coding. However, for anyone managing more than a handful of vehicles, making sure every car is always legal and that a small slip of paper arriving in the post actually made it to the driver (and then into the car) has got to be one of the dullest parts of running a fleet.

I shudder to think how many days have been wasted on this within businesses, car retailers, manufacturers and leasing firms over the years.

Yes, things got slightly better a few years back with online ordering thanks in part to the Motor Insurance Database, but that was only ever a half-way house.

Enforcement technology has improved. Police no longer need to see a coloured paper disc to tell if a vehicle’s taxed. In fact, they hardly need to even key-in a number-plate thanks to cameras that read a registration and then automatically check the vehicle is both taxed and insured.

While I welcome the savings that the DVLA will make with the new system, as well as the reduced tax avoidance that’s expected. It’s got to be the administration savings every business that runs company cars is looking forward to when the tax disc is killed off in October. This alone has to be worth millions to the British economy, and for that reason I’m happy to see it go.

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