Paying your car tax is an unavoidable part of being on the road. Almost every driver has to pay it, regardless of who you are or what you drive.
If you’ve ever begrudged paying your car tax, you’ll probably be pleased to know that in certain situations, you can claim some of it back.
Whether you decide to sell on or scrap your car, the tax you’ve paid isn’t totally lost. In this guide on how to claim back car tax, we’ll cover whether you’re eligible, how to do it and when you can claim it.
Want to know more about what road tax is and how it works? Check out our car tax explained post, or our guide to company car tax.
Can I reclaim car tax?
It might be surprising to hear that there are actually a number of different reasons that allow you to reclaim car tax. Whatever reason your car is off the road, if you’re not using it, you could qualify for a refund.
Just check out the list below to see whether you could claim.
Selling your car on
When you sell your car not long after covering your road tax, you might begrudge that your hard earned cash is covering the new driver.
But drivers have to pay for their own car tax when they get a new car. Any tax covered by the previous owner no longer legally covers the car, and new owners can face fines of £80-£1,000 for neglecting to pay.
Luckily for you (if you’re selling), this means you may be able to claim back some of what you paid. You simply need to contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to let them know that you’ve changed your vehicle.
You’ll need to provide them with Section 9 of your VC5 certificate, and they’ll confirm that you’re no longer the registered owner. They should then update you on whether you’re eligible for a refund.
Scrapping your car
If your car’s reached the end of the road, it can be a comforting farewell to receive some of the tax back from your scrapped car.
When your car has been destroyed, simply contact the DVLA with a Certificate of Destruction.
Taking your car off-road
If you’re going to be spending a long period of time off-road, it’s probably not worth covering the expense of taxing your car. In these situations, if you’ve already paid your tax, you can claim some of it back.
To do so, you’ll need to speak with the DVLA and register your car with a Statutory Off Road Notification. You’ll then be refunded for the remaining months that your car tax covered.
But, bear in mind that registering your car as ‘off-road’ means you can’t just change your mind and nip to the shops in it. If you want to use your car again you’ll have to inform the DVLA and pay your car tax.
Involuntary off-road vehicles
In some cases, your car ends up off the road for reasons beyond your control. If your car gets stolen, written off following an incident, or badly damaged needing extensive repair, you could be eligible to claim back some tax.
This isn’t guaranteed, but is always worth checking in with the DVLA. You could be entitled to a refund for some (or all) of the time your car was off-road.
How to claim back car tax
Making your tax claim is really simple, but works slightly differently depending on the reason for your claim.
If you’re selling your car, the refund is automatically generated following your notification to the DVLA that you’ve sold your car. You don’t have to do anything else, and any outstanding direct debits will also be cancelled.
When you’re claiming for other reasons such as involuntary off-road, SORN, or having scrapped your car, you’ll typically need to contact the DVLA yourself. To make your claim, you’ll need your details, VC5, and car registration.
How much can I claim?
How much you’re able to claim back really depends on the remaining cover you had left. If you had 6 months left of car tax, you’ll typically be refunded for this amount.
However, if you sell your car one month but fail to inform the DVLA until later, you’re unlikely to receive payment for the time in between. For example, if you sell your car in May but don’t inform the DVLA until June, you could miss out on reclaiming a month’s worth of tax.
What happens if I don't get the refund?
Your refund can take up to six weeks to come through, but if you don’t receive it within this timeframe, you can contact the DVLA. Just bear in mind that if you’ve informed them via post, it could take up to 8 weeks.
If you’re still in doubt, you can reach them by telephone on 0300 790 6802, or speak to them through the webchat service on the DVLA website.
Claiming back your car tax is surprisingly simple, but if there’s any confusion over your tax reclaim, it’s best to contact the DVLA directly.
Alternatively, if you’re keen to avoid road tax at all, it’s worth noting that road tax is included in leases. As leasing means you’re never the registered owner of the car, the price is absorbed into the monthly payments for the leasing company to pay. If you’re eager to find out more, just check out our guide to how car leasing works.
Alternatively, you might want to look into an electric car. Company car tax for electric cars is currently 0% - you can read more about BIK rates for the coming years on our post. Check out our round up of the best electric cars and our electric car lease deals to see whether one would suit you.