About 17,086 UK motorists are still paying tax on vehicles listed as stolen.
The figures were revealed under a A Freedom of Information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency by the UK’s oldest specialist motor insurance loss adjuster, Claims Management & Adjusting.
According to DVLA data for September 2023, of 54,804 vehicles recorded as stolen, almost a third (31.18%) are still taxed. The government web page on vehicle tax direct debit payments warns that if your car is stolen “You’ll have to apply for a refund separately”.
Most people pay £180 a year in Vehicle Excise Duty, commonly known as car tax, but for many new, expensive or more polluting vehicles, it can be much higher. For example, owners of non-electric new cars costing over £40k face an extra VED charge of £390 for five years from the second year of registration, referred to as the ‘luxury premium’.
Philip Swift (above), a former detective and now managing director of CMA, said, “Our initial reaction on discovering this 17,000+ figure was one of astonishment. How on earth are so many people being allowed to fall into this trap?
“From a consumer perspective, amidst the shock of a vehicle theft, dealing with the resulting admin and beginning the search for a new car, claiming a tax refund, or cancelling a direct debit, is far from top priority. It’s conceivable that some might decide it’s simply not worth the hassle, especially if it doesn’t have long to run.
“But that misses the point. Victims of crime are incurring additional costs for no good reason. At best, it shows a lack of joined-up thinking. At worst, it is a rather underhand way of boosting government coffers.”
He added, “Presumably the number of people affected has been creeping up for years, linked directly to the plummeting stolen vehicle recovery rate. Not so long ago, the first thought if your car got stolen was ‘I hope the police find it intact’.
“That was reasonable in 2006, when 80% of stolen vehicles were recovered. Today, with recovery rates at an all-time low of around 20% nationally (far less in some areas – just 6% in Kent) the first thought is ‘I need a crime number so I can make an insurance claim’. The lack of a visual reminder in the form of a tax disc, abolished in 2014, is probably another factor.
“In terms of a solution, we’re working with our insurance partners to introduce an automatic reminder for stolen car claimants to review their VED situation. In the meantime, the government continues to quietly pocket money from thousands of motorists who’ve already suffered the trauma and inconvenience of having their car nicked.”