Doctor counts £140 cost of zero tax bill

Debbie Smith

Debbie Smith with her Toyota Yaris hybrid car

A Leytonstone doctor was fined £140 – because she didn’t respond to a zero tax bill.

Debbie Smith, a who works at Royal London Hospital, is warning other hybrid-car owners about the risks of not registering for car tax after her Toyota Yaris was clamped.

Despite Debbie’s vehicle being exempt from car tax because of its low carbon emissions, the the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) still requires owners to register for it. She had bought her hybrid car in March 2015 and received a statement a year later for zero tax, but subsequently had her car clamped.

Debbie told the Echo: “I am immensely frustrated. I’m not a dishonest person and I always strive to be professional and law abiding. For the DVLA to say ‘I should have known’ is just ridiculous. My brother-in-law is a policeman and even he has never heard of this.”

Debbie bought her vehicle knowing it was exempt from car tax, and correctly received a statement for £0. Believing she did not need to respond to the letter, she did not make a road tax application. But she then received a warning saying she needed to pay a £40 fine, and five days later a firm clamped her car and charged £100 to release it. Debbie was told that a car can be clamped at any time, even within the deadline for paying a DVLA fine.

“We’ve ended up £140 out-of-pocket when we originally owed zero,” said Debbie.

“I am very keen that other people who wish to do their bit for clean air in our borough don’t get penalised for it.”

In response to Debbie’s situation, a DVLA spokesperson said: “The reminder makes it clear the motorist must either tax the vehicle; tell DVLA they are keeping the vehicle off the road; or tell DVLA they no longer have the vehicle.

“By law all vehicles must be taxed or declared off-road by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This applies to all vehicles – including those that don’t attract any fee for the vehicle tax. Should the untaxed vehicle be seen on the road it may be clamped.”