FROM October 1 there will be a something different about our car windscreens.

In a break with a legal requirement dating back to 1921 - when the first circular paper tax disc was issued - motorists will no longer have to display it due to technology enabling the police and other enforcement authorities to check whether a vehicle is taxed or not without having to check the document displayed in our car windscreens.

However, the fact we don't have have to display our tax discs doesn't mean we don't have to pay prompting concerns from motoring organisation, the RAC, that some may try to evade the fee.

RAC chief engineer, David Bizley, says: "We could be looking at around £167 million of lost revenues to the Treasury, far exceeding the £10 million that will be saved by no longer having to print tax discs and post them to vehicle owners.

"There is clearly concern among motorists over the issue of enforcement. Most of the changes make sense and will benefit the motorist, but too many motorists are unaware of the detail.

"The big question has to be whether enforcement using only cameras and automatic number plate recognition will be sufficiently effective."

Any person can check the tax status of any vehicle by using DVLA's Vehicle Enquiry System which can be accessed by visiting

If a car has no tax disc, it can indicate the vehicle has no insurance or MoT, but according to the DVLA technology is already available to check details between the DVLA, Insurance Industry and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Technical advancements in accessing vehicle information means the police can access details at the roadside.

The DVLA takes enforcement action directly from the vehicle register. The use of tools such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and wheelclamping also enforce more effectively against those who fail to pay their vehicle tax and, according to the DVLA have helped to improve compliance and vehicle tax evasion is at a historic low.

Retired policeman, Reg Cranage who is deputy chairman of Ilkley and District Road Safety committee, says he believes scrapping tax discs will be a costly exercise, particularly for car buyers.

Reg explains when buying a car, the seller is automatically reimbursed for the tax left on the vehicle but the buyer has to re-tax it. "Therefore that month that the deal happens they have paid for it twice because they will not re-imburse that mid month but will have to pay for it," says Reg.

"That is an extra toll on your tax year."

From a policing point of view, Reg says it was easy to spot a tax disc that was fake or had been altered by car thieves - but no longer having to display a disc means officers don't have anything to spot .

Adds Reg: "I think it is a duff job and it's going to be a losing end for the tax authority."

According to the DVLA, when a driver sells their vehicle after October 1 any tax left will automatically be refunded to the registered keeper when they tell the department they have sold or transferred the vehicle to trade avoiding form filling and posting.

But after October 1 private sellers won't be able to sell vehicles with existing tax so buyers need to be aware that they will need to get 'new' tax before they drive away. They also warn buyers not to get scammed and to walk away if the seller tries to include an existing tax disc as part of the deal.

To make the process easier, the DVLA says it is making changes so new keepers can go online or call using the new keeper supplement section of the log book and tax their vehicle there and then.

Local driving instructor, Chris Smith, is also concerned and fears it could open the floodgates for people to evade taxing their cars.

"You can not identify whether anybody is taxed or not," says Chris.

He says at present traffic wardens can check a displayed tax disc and see whether a car is taxed or not . "How are they going to check? They will not have the ability to check every car they walk passed and not all cars that are roadworthy are necessarily taxed.

"And," he adds "how many ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras can you see?

For more information visit

Did you know?

The first tax disc was issued in 1921 and was printed in black ink on thick grey paper with very few anti-fraud devices.

Although vehicle taxation had existed for many years, it was from 1 January 1921 that motorists had to display a tax disc on their vehicle following the implementation of the Finance Act 1920 which made issuing and displaying a tax disc a legal requirement

At the time a tax disc cost up to £6, around £127 in today’s money.

In 1921 there were just under 600,000 vehicles on the road and 1 million people held a driving licence - today there are over 36 million vehicles and 45 million drivers.

Tax discs are circular with a perforated edge for security reasons – when they were created back in the 1920s, design experts found a circular disc was more difficult to forge or alter than any other shape.

By 1923, a splash of colour had burst onto the disc – this wasn’t to make it prettier to look at but to help enforcement agencies tell at a glance which discs were out of date and help prevent forgery.

The first perforated tax disc appeared in 1938 but stopped four years later, not reappearing until 1952 – the exact reason for this is unknown but it’s thought the perforations stopped because the printing equipment was destroyed in WW2 bombing raids.

Monthly vehicle taxation (taxing from January to December or March to February, etc) was introduced in 1961 – this was to stop the bottleneck caused by all tax discs running out on 31 December.