The tax disc is not just a piece of paper

All vehicles on the road have to be taxed and insured by some sort of vehicle insurance, whether it’s a single person driving a mini or a company with a fleet of vans covered on commercial vehicle insurance, the law is the same. The vehicle Tax Disc came about after the Acts of 1919 and 20 which laid down specifications for the first Tax Discs and exactly how they had to be displayed. It was classed as proof that payment of the Road Fund Licence had been made and so the Tax Disc that we know today was born. For the years 1921/22, Tax Discs compared to todays were really quite basic.  They were on plain grey paper with black ink and had simple instructions on the back, some even had adverts and they had no perforations making it difficult to fit a square tax disc into a round holder. 1923 saw the introduction of a colour for each year which helped enforcing agencies to quickly notice if a vehicle had a disc which was out of date. In the early years, all Tax Discs purchased during a year ran out December 31st. The  system of December 31st expiry remained for many years and would cause big problems at the issuing offices because they would struggle to cope with the enormous task of renewing all the new tax discs in the short time  between  Christmas and New Year as they all ran out at the same time. A major innovation happened in 1938 when the introduction of perforations around the outside of the tax disc made it much easier to fit into its round holder.

Changes to all aspects of the Tax Disc and its administration happened in 1961. In a big effort to make life harder for forgers, a new design was launched which consisted of various circular vignettes along with bands of solid colour, with another change being the half tone background. Also monthly taxation was at last brought in to get away from the heavy load of the December 31st expiry date. From January onwards it was possible to buy a year’s car tax at any time. But the attempt to beat the forger proved to be slightly off target as the years of 61/62 turned out to be relatively straight forward to amend and even Guinness bottle labels were being used to evade payment. Because of this in 1963, an extra expiry date was added and this put an end to this practice. This design was to stay for the next 15 years until May 1978.

1978’s new style Tax Disc design showed the whole expiry date in large print on top of  a coloured band, repeated in toned colour further down on the Tax Disc. This type lasted until August 1987. The first of the ‘wavy line’ design Tax disc began in September 1987, after another round in the eternal battle with the forgers. The disc now had thin parallel wavy lines with a superimposed expiry date. By 2001, the design had got even more complex, and made on water marked paper. However, still the battle with the forger goes on, and in October, 2003, a star shaped perforation with gold foils, bar codes and even holograms have been added.


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