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UK Tax Disc

Your Days Are Numbered And Nobody Cares

First introduced over 90 years ago, there's likely not a motorist on the roads today who remembers a time before the tax disc. Pleasingly shaped like a lovely teabag, it's always been there for us. Though intentionally placed out of the driver's line of sight, its nonetheless been a reassuring presence for drivers across this fair isle for almost a century now.

The car in which you learned to drive had a tax disc. Your parents' car had a tax disc. The first car you owned had a tax disc, so too did the car of the first person you loved.

Whether spotting it out of the corner of your eye or frowning at it as renewal day approached, the tax disc was always there for you. And, as far as you were concerned, it always will be.

George Osborne's Terrible Legacy

As Margaret Thatcher is often remembered as “The Milk Snatcher” for the part she played in robbing school children of their milk, Chancellor George Osborne's legacy will almost certainly be as “the motorist's scorn”.

Later this year, Chancellor Osborne intends to do away with the tax disc for good in favour of a wholly web-based registration system. Of course, he has his reasons. A digital registration scheme could cut costs, streamline services and reduce the need for unnecessary paper. Ignoring, for one moment, the fact that motorists without internet access might have something to say about this new scheme, these are all very good reasons to effect a change.

Nonetheless, when it was announced in the Autumn Budget that the tax disc would be scrapped for good in 2014, the outcry of anguish was so powerful that it was probably felt on Mars by sentient, compassionate microbes. Just as 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, it also gave another generation a shared moment of feeling. Nobody who was alive in 2013 will ever forget where they were when it was confirmed that the tax disc was on its way out.

But Seriously

Or maybe not. The tax disc was first introduced in 1921, so it's about time we moved on. The new system of online registration will definitely have some hiccups in the early days (it's unavoidable), but once the kinks are ironed out, motorists will have access to all manner of unprecedented benefits.

For example, for the first time ever, you will soon be able to spread the cost of road tax through paying it monthly by direct debit. And remember the motorists without internet access to whom I alluded earlier? They'll still be able to tax their cars over the phone or in person at their local post office. Everybody wins.

In fact, there are so many benefits to going digital (and let's face it, this is such a trivial matter anyway), that it's unlikely that anyone will miss the tax disc at all.

Elegy For The Tax Disc

Car merchants Motorpoint wished to know exactly how little the UK public cared about the death of the tax disc, so they ran a web-based poll. They found that some 60.6% of UK motorists back George Osborne's plan. Seeing as up to 100% of the country is usually vying for his immediate dismissal and public humiliation, this is quite an achievement for the chancellor.

Says Mark Carpenter of Motorpoint, “The tax disc is part of the fabric of motoring and I am sure it will take some getting used to not having it on show in our windscreens.

“However, with the widespread use of real-time online systems by the Police and other agencies to combat avoidance, the role of the tax disc has become largely symbolic and based on the results of our poll it doesn’t seem that too many drivers will be that sad to see it disappear.”

Will you be sad to see the back of the tax disc? Of course you won't. As a driver, you should be quite used to seeing the back of the tax disc by now, anyway. By which I mean, the reverse. And I believe that even jokes that require explaining can still be funny.