Belfast Telegraph

Concern over Northern Ireland's car tax evasion figures as 68,000 fines issued

Almost 70,000 fines were issued for untaxed cars in Northern Ireland in 2018 - the second highest number in the UK behind London (Dave Thompson/PA)
Almost 70,000 fines were issued for untaxed cars in Northern Ireland in 2018 - the second highest number in the UK behind London (Dave Thompson/PA)
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Almost 70,000 fines were issued for untaxed cars in Northern Ireland in 2018 - the second highest number in the UK behind London.

The figures released by the DVLA revealed that 5,516 cars were clamped here last year, and 67,944 penalties were issued.

There were 26,606 more fines handed out in London when compared to Northern Ireland, while Birmingham, which was third on the list, received 17,899 less.

Upper Bann's SDLP MLA and Westminster candidate Dolores Kelly described the figures as "pretty amazing".

"I suspect that because people don't have the tax disc any more, which was always a good visual reminder, people are forgetting to renew their tax," she said.

"I do know the DVLA send out reminders but people set it on their shelves and the next thing you know people may forget and the time could have lapsed.

"I can understand why in some cases that it's not renewed and I can hazard a guess that it's not intentional avoidance but more absence of that visual reminder of the tax disc."

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Meanwhile, the number of vehicles being used on UK roads without tax has fallen but still remains at record high levels since the end of the paper disc five years ago.

Around 1.6% of motors on the roads in 2019 are not paying vehicle excise duty (VED) - with Northern Ireland on top - which represents an estimated 634,000 cars in the UK, according to the Department for Transport stats.

Regional analysis showed that the highest rate of VED evasion is here at 2.5%.

This is followed by Scotland (1.8%) where evasion rates are higher than average, and varying levels of car tax dodging across regions of England and Wales of between 1.5% and 1.7%.

More than half (54%) of vehicles showing as not having tax have been without vehicle excise duty for less than two months, according to a review of data in June.

More than one in 10 (11%) had been untaxed for more than a year.

But of this proportion, more than a quarter of vehicles (27%) were motorcycles.

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