What happens if I don't pay car tax?

Paying your car tax, or Road Fund Licence as it’s also called, is a legal requirement so as you might imagine you’ll get yourself into trouble if you don’t pay it.



If you don’t pay your car tax or make a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), your untaxed car will end up costing you an £1,000 fine. Your car could also be clamped and then taken away from you if you don’t pay the fine. There’s no way of avoiding this thanks to the latest technology.

No escape

Back in the old days your car had to be seen on the road without a tax disc but nowadays no tax disc needs to be displayed. Each month The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) carry out checks on all cars to make sure they’re taxed. These guys have the authority to enforce the law if you don’t pay your tax. Their database is never wrong so there’s nowhere to hide. You might also find that a neighbour or passer by reports your untaxed car (although that’s harder now that you don’t have to display the disc) as the DVLA operate a telephone hotline for this purpose.


When the paper tax disc was abolished back in 2014 the DVLA were very quick to jump on those who failed to pay the tax. Their reaction was so strong that the public created quite a fuss about the situation. The stricter application of the law is partly to blame for the 50% increase in convictions that occurred in the latter part of 2014 because since October of that year any time a car is sold a new Road Fund Licence has to be bought. In the past you could buy a car and the remaining months on the tax could be passed over to the new owner without fuss.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Road tax is also known as Vehicle Excise Duty. That term probably make the purpose of the tax a little easier to understand. The tax isn’t in place to pay for road improvements as suggested by the name Road Fund Licence, it’s just a levy. Like lots of other taxes, it’s just a revenue source for the government that doesn’t directly fund anything related to the product. At the moment the amount you pay differs depending on the CO2 emissions that the vehicle produces. Some drivers don’t have to pay anything if they have a car in the lowest band but they still have to renew their car tax each year or they face the same penalties.

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