Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The tax disc dies today. How will you fill the void it leaves?

WHAT do a sticker with Southport’s coat of arms, a curious period reproduction of some 1970s paperwork and a Volkswagen Owners Club badge – even though I’ve never owned a VW – have in common?

Nope, they’re not prizes from the worst ever round of The Generation Game. They are, in fact, just three of the automotive ornaments competing for windscreen space in my small fleet of cheap used cars. As of today, you no longer need to display a tax disc in your car – and literally and metaphorically, the demise of this bit of DVLA bureaucracy is going to leave a big gap.

In case you hadn’t already heard, the DVLA has decided to do away with the little perforated discs. It means that for the first time since 1921, motorists won’t end up accidentally ripping them as they carefully try to free them from the bit of Swansea paperwork they’re posted out with, and the end of nosey neighbours trying to get one up on you when they point out your disc is a day out of date.

Naturally, there are downsides too, particularly if – like me – you love idly flicking through The Champion’s classifieds, hoping to find a rubber-bumper MG Midget for next to nothing. Thanks to some complicated and frankly rather boring changes to the law, you can no longer buy a car with six months’ tax thrown in as part of the deal – you have to pay for yours from scratch, and the seller has to ask for a refund for theirs. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the changes don’t spark another Passport Office-esque nightmare IT meltdown, but hopefully the new system should be second nature in six months’ time.

Nope, the real change for me is having a circular sea of emptiness in the bottom-left corner of my windscreen which no longer has to be filled with a redundant bit of paperwork. In my instance, I’ve already opted to fill the space left in my MX-5’s windscreen with a sticker celebrating Southport – a nice reminder of home when I spend most of my working week in deepest Cambridgeshire – while the MGB’s being treated to one of those period recreation tax discs that’s all the rage with classic car fans right now.

The possibilities are endless for that little circular wallet which will otherwise sit unloved and empty – you could replace your tax disc with a Liverpool FC badge, a photograph of Keira Knightley, whatever you choose.

In fact, my favourite suggestion was a colleague’s – just the words TAX IN PAST, scrawled on a circular bit of paper. 

I can just picture it now, plastered on the windscreen of a yellow Reliant Regal. Cushty, Rodders!

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