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The worst areas for vehicle tax avoidance – plus 20 areas on the DVLA's watchlist

2-minute read

Lauren Hellicar

20 August 2020

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New data from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has revealed the worst areas in the UK for vehicle tax offences – plus 20 cities and towns on its watchlist.

The number of enforcement actions taken against drivers of untaxed vehicles is down by 4.6 per cent as compared to 2019, according to an article in This is Money.

But the DVLA data reveals there’s still a big divide between the worst offending regions and the most law abiding.

Regional variations in number of road tax offences

Moneybarn’s freedom of information request to the DVLA returned data that shows Belfast is the worst in the UK for vehicle tax avoidance. It’s racked up more than 2,400 offences, whereas Inverness, at the other end of the spectrum, has only had 223.

Worst UK cities for vehicle tax avoidance

#Postcode areaNumber of vehicle tax offences per capita
1Belfast2407
2Croydown1368
3Birmingham1310
4Cardiff1258
5Enfield1250
6Luton1230
7Rochester1186
8Dartford1175
9Newport1123
10Romford1120

Best UK cities for vehicle tax compliance

#Postcode areaNumber of vehicle tax offences per capita
1Inverness223
2Norwich250
3Aberdeen312
4Carlisle353
5Kirkwall354
6Lancaster367
7Truro394
8Exeter396
9Ipswich418
10Worcester419

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Which areas were on the DVLA’s watchlist?

Shortly before the coronavirus outbreak sent the UK into lockdown, the DVLA revealed the 20 UK tax avoidance hotspots on its watchlist. The listed postcode areas racked up almost 600,000 enforcement actions between them.

#Postcode areaNumber of enforcement actions
1Belfast78,501
2Birmingham61,531
3Glasgow34,375
4Manchester34,106
5Sheffield30,467
6South London29,336
7Cardiff28,857
8Nottingham26,134
9East London26,005
10Edinburgh24,779
11North London24,766
12Bristol24,747
13Coventry23,739
14Peterborough23,271
15Leicester23,174
16Newcastle22,996
17Northampton18,729
18Romford18,325
19Swansea18,237
20Doncaster17,885

How are the number of vehicle tax offences being counted?

The types of offence counted in the DVLA figures include:

  • owning an untaxed vehicle
  • driving a motor with a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) status
  • parking a SORN status vehicle on the road

How the number for each region is calculated

  • total number of vehicle tax offences
  • divided by total number of drivers registered as living in the locality
  • multiplied by 100,000

It’s calculated this way to make the data representative of the population size for each area.

What has led to the increase in offences?

This is Money suggests there could be a link with the abolition of paper tax discs. If you’re not obliged to display in the front window physical proof that your vehicle is taxed, it makes sense that lawbreakers will be less obvious to enforcement authorities.

This is Money states the estimated cost of vehicle tax avoidance to the Treasury is £94 million.

It says that in 2019 the DVLA took 1.2 million individual enforcement actions for untaxed vehicles. These include late licensing penalties, out of court settlements, and wheel clamping.

2013 was the final full term when vehicle owners were required to display a paper tax disc and the number of enforcement actions for that year is much lower, at 693,270.

What are the rules on vehicle excise duty?

You get an immediate £80 fine if you get caught without tax for your van or car, which you’ll be notified of by automated letter to the vehicle’s registered address. If you pay within 28 days, the fine is halved and you don’t get points on your license.

Ignore the fine and the penalty could increase to £1,000 – or five times the annual road tax fee if the case goes to court. Plus, your vehicle could be clamped under special DVLA powers. So even if you don’t agree with the fine, it makes sense to appeal rather than ignore it.

Should the DVLA bring back paper tax discs to help tackle the problem of vehicle tax avoidance? Let us know in the comments section.

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