Taxing your car is a necessity, but what if it’s already been taxed? Do you still need to tax it, or are you in the clear until it’s up for renewal? We’re answering your questions and everything else you need to know about car road tax in this guide.
What is car road tax?
Officially known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), most people know it as car road tax, car tax or vehicle tax. Whatever you decide to call it, taxing your car is a legal requirement, just like getting insurance for your vehicle is also something you have to do by law.
Do I need to tax my car?
The short answer is “yes”, you’ll need to tax your new car. At least, the majority of car owners will, and it’s not just for cars either. If you’re buying a van or even a motorhome, you’ll need to make sure they are taxed. Tax is due every 12 months, so you’ll need to renew it too (unless you only paid for 6 months, in which case you'll need to renew it every 6 months).
What about if it has already been taxed?
When you buy a used car, the seller needs to transfer ownership over to you by using a V5C form to inform the DVLA that you are the new registered keeper. At this point, it becomes your responsibility to tax the car under your name, even if the previous owner already had car road tax on the vehicle.
As the new keeper of the car, you’re now responsible for taxing it regardless of its previous tax status. Road tax payments made for the coming months by the seller aren’t transferable to your name, and you’ll always need to re-tax a new car.
Are there any car road tax exemptions?
While the overwhelming majority of car owners will pay tax, there are some exemptions where you won’t need to tax your vehicle. These include:
- When you register your vehicle as off-the-road (SORN)
- Owning a brand new car producing zero grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and costs less than £40,000.
- Owning a car registered between March 1 2001 and April 1 2017, producing up to 100 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven
- Owning a vehicle classed as “historic” and is more than 40 years old.
You may also be exempt from paying car road tax if you have a disability and use an invalid carriage like a mobility scooter. Other disability-type exemptions include anyone receiving War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, and receiving a higher rate of mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. Even if you don’t need to pay tax, you should still register your car for tax exemption with the DVLA.
What happens if I don’t pay tax on my car?
The DVLA runs monthly checks, looking at its database to identify any cars without tax and aren’t declared SORN. You’ll get a warning letter in the post if your car comes up in the database, asking you to pay the tax asap.
If you still don’t pay, you’ll then receive an £80 fine, which reduces to half if you pay it within 28 days. However, if you continue to ignore the warnings, you may end up paying a £1,000 fine plus court fees. You also run the risk of being pulled over by the police if you drive your car without tax. They have the authority to issue a fixed penalty of £1,000 on the spot.
How do I tax my car?
Once upon a time, you had to go to the post office to tax your car. And while queuing up at the post office is still an option, fortunately, you can also do it online. The government’s website offers a form where all you need to do is enter a reference number from a car tax-related document you received.
These include a recent reminder (V11) or “last chance” reminder from the DVLA; the vehicle logbook (V5C), which needs to be in your name; or a green “new keeper slip” from the logbook if you just purchased the car.
You’ll have the option to pay the tax all at once, or you can spread the cost over monthly payments. Payment is accepted via credit, debit or direct debit.
Time for tax
Let’s face it; no one likes talking about tax. But it’s a necessary part of driving, and you’ll need to get tax on your car even if the previous owner has already taxed it. Once you’ve sorted out all the tax-related stuff, you can focus on the fun parts of driving, which is basically everything that doesn’t involve tax.