Lines of parked vehicles

Over 17,000 people still paying tax on their stolen cars

14th Feb, 2024

Sorting car tax can sometimes be a bit of a hassle at the best of times, but it can be particularly challenging to deal with in the immediate aftermath of getting your car stolen – which goes some way to explaining why more than 17,000 people are still paying road tax on stolen vehicles, according to a recent Freedom of Information request.

Now, obviously here at Scrap Car Network, we like to make everything as simple and straightforward for you as possible once you decide: I need to scrap my car. When it gets stolen though, it’s a different situation entirely. Here’s the latest on what’s been going on.

What’s been happening?

According to DVLA data for September last year, there were 54,804 vehicles recorded as stolen. 17,086 of those cars are still taxed, which means the owners are still making payments on them. To put that into perspective, that’s about a third of the total number of stolen cars, still costing their former owners money directly.

The crux of the issue is that the DVLA do not issue road tax refunds automatically when a car is lost, stolen or destroyed. They require someone to specifically notify them about the status of the car. When it’s scrapped, most of the time the scrap car dealer will do that on the former driver’s behalf. When the car is stolen though, the police or insurers won’t necessarily take on that responsibility – so it’s down to the driver to notify the DVLA and cancel their direct debits.

So, why are so many people stopping short of seeking a car tax refund?

Well, there are a couple of crucial factors at play:

  • When you’ve had your car stolen, your head isn’t necessarily in the right mindset for paperwork. It’s a stressful and often scary thing to happen, so it’s easy for small admin tasks to fall through the gaps, however important their consequences
  • The lack of visual reminder doesn’t help, since physical car tax discs were abolished back in 2014, so the former owner has little to no chance of seeing one on someone else’s car, and having their memory jogged

Essentially, all that means that victims of crime are losing money hand over fist. Admittedly, it’s all going into the public purse, so there could be worse places for it – but the fact remains that it’s not money that they’re legally obliged to hand over.

If you think you may still be paying tax on a stolen car, thankfully the process is fairly straightforward. Just enter your old car’s registration details into the government’s online tax checker, and it’ll tell you if the car is still taxed or not. If it’s not, you have nothing further to worry about. If it is on the other hand, you can simply cancel the direct debit. (Ideally it’s worth telling the DVLA this in writing as well – you can call them if you’d like, but they can be notoriously tricky to get hold of over the phone.)

What do I need to do about tax when I scrap my car?

Ah, we’re pleased to say that we’ll be able to help you there! When you scrap your car with us here at Scrap Car Network, we always make sure to notify the DVLA on your behalf. Once they’ve received that official update, they’ll then send you that all-important Certificate of Destruction, which serves as legal proof that your car has been properly disposed of, and that you’re freed from any further legal obligation in relation to it.

However, it’s worth saying that we’d also generally recommend that you still contact the DVLA yourself too. Technically, you’re the one who bears final legal responsibility, so it’s always better that the DVLA gets two notifications, rather than relying entirely on just one from us. And let’s be honest, it gives you better peace of mind that way!

Hopefully when you do bid goodbye to your current car, it’ll be not because of a theft, but simply because it’s reached the end of its useful lifespan. And when that time comes, we’ll be here to help!

With more than 40 years of experience behind us at Scrap Car Network, we’ve refined our process to make sure it’s never been easier to scrap your car. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll have your scrap car quote to you in seconds. So… curious to find out how much your car is worth?

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial