Car tax dodgers warned ‘you can’t hide’ as penalty hot spots revealed

Campaign highlights cost of getting caught with an untaxed car as offender numbers soar

The UK cities where most drivers have been punished for not paying their car tax have been revealed as drivers are being warned they can’t avoid the penalties.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) named the cities which saw the most enforcement action in 2021 - from fines to clamping - as it launched a new campaign warning drivers of the risks of dodging their car tax.

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The new “hard to hide, easy to tax” message is intended to highlight the DVLA’s ability to track untaxed cars and penalise their owners, wherever they are.

The DVLA uses computer records and number plate recognition cameras to identify and track untaxed vehicles and issue fines.

A DVLA spokesperson said: “This year’s campaign focuses on the clear message that untaxed cars are ‘hard to hide, easy to tax’ and for those that continue to flout the rules, the consequences include financial penalties, court action, clamping and even the loss of a car.”

It is thought that the number of untaxed vehicles has trebled since the abolition of the paper tax disc in 2014 and according to figures from the Department for Transport the number of untaxed vehicles on the UK’s roads has jumped by 85,000 in the last two years to an estimated 719,000 in 2021.

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Drivers who fail to tax their car initially face a fine of £80, reduced to £40 for prompt payment. However, if you ignore the initial fine you could be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000. The DVLA also has the power to clamp or seize an untaxed vehicle, adding release fees of up to £200 and £21-per-day storage charges on top of the cost of the tax.

Predictably, London saw the most enforcement last year, with 97,000 actions taken in the capital, almost twice as many as in Birmingham (52,000). Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield all saw between 25,000 and 29,000 enforcement actions.


Even if a car isn’t being driven, if it is kept on a public road it must be taxed and insured. The rules also apply to vehicles that qualify for zero rate tax, such as electric cars and classic models. Owners must “tax” their cars for £0 or face the same penalties as other drivers.

The only way to avoid road tax is to take your car off the public road and make a SORN declaration.

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DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “This campaign has a clear message for anyone that delays or avoids taxing their vehicle.

“It really has never been easier to tax a vehicle, from using our 24/7 online service to direct debit options. We want motorists to understand that it’s not worth taking a risk and always tax their vehicles on time.”

Drivers failing to tax their vehicles is thought to have cost the Treasury £119 million in lost revenue in 2021, up from £35m in 2014 when the paper tax disc was abolished.

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