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New online car tax system experiences teething problems

Thousands of people in the UK were unable to renew their car tax online after the new system was hit by an unprecedented number of users.

A Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) spokesperson said the new online renewal system, which came into operation on October 1st, experienced ‘high volumes of interest’, but stressed it ‘hasn’t crashed’. The advice it gave to those affected was ‘to keep trying’.

The online service was out of action most of the morning, as was the tool to check a car’s tax and MOT status. 30,000 people visited the website compared with the same day last year, according to the DVLA. Normal service seemed to resume around lunchtime.

Anyone wanting to tax their car now can do so online as part of the new system, ending 93 years of the paper tax disc. It is no longer a legal requirement to display the circular bit of paper.

Confusion has arisen over the newly introduced direct debit system, which lets you pay for your tax in monthly installments. The DVLA said it would be possible to go into a post office and tax your car right away. 

However, the Post Office said the direct debit option will only become available from October 5th, 2014, and that only a car due for renewal after November 1st is eligible. Cars that need taxing before who want to use a direct debit will have to buy six months and sit tight until the next renewal date, basically.

Critics are already slamming the lack of information and the revenues it could raise. “Someone driving a car that costs £500 a year to tax would lose £41 if they sold it at the beginning of the month,” AA president Edmund King said. 

“Likewise a buyer purchasing a car mid month would have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty for the entire month,” he added. 

The AA also believes the lack of a paper disc could lead to tax evasion to the tune of £167 million. The DVLA dismisses the claim as ‘nonsense’, adding that £10 million is saved in tax disc printing and distribution costs. 

Unsure what’s changed when it comes to taxing your car? Here’s everything you need to know about the new tax disc. You’re welcome.

Update: A DVLA spokesperson got back to us: “We can confirm that the unprecedented demand for car tax online temporarily affected the services provided by Vodafone to DVLA. Vodafone’s engineers worked hard with us to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and the service has now been restored. Vodafone will continue to monitor the service closely and will be carrying out a full investigation into the issue.”

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