retro tax disc

BX – Paper Tax Disc

3 min read

I really liked having paper tax discs, and I’ve never been able to let them go. So when they stopped being produced I just had to make my own. I guess sometimes I have to let my inner geek out.

The end of the UK tax disc

The DVLA stopped using paper tax discs some six years ago. The old discs were abolished in October 2014. Now all records of tax are held on the DVLA database which can be readily accessed at their website.

The last paper tax disc for the BX
The last paper tax disc for the BX

The argument was made that the paper system was no longer cost-effective. A huge saving could be made if tens of thousands of bits of paper and envelopes weren’t posted out. Most enforcement methods now use some form of automatic number plate recognition system. This allows a quick check of far more than just the tax status, so I guess the abolition of the paper tax disc was to be expected.

A trophy or reminder

For me, the tax disc is more than just a nostalgic record of the car having been taxed. One benefit of the tax discs is as a reminder of the impending inevitability of getting the car through another MOT. Though with the BX in more regular use and having received significant maintenance and repair over the last few years, the MOT is becoming less of a worry.

2019 paper tax disc from DiscyBusiness
2019 paper tax disc from DiscyBusiness

But the real pleasure in the paper tax disc is to remind me that the car has managed another year on the road. And frankly, there aren’t too many of them. Last year (2019) was a prime example where best-laid plans of having the car on the road for the year didn’t go to plan, but it did make it to the road! Other years have not had the paper trophy awarded with the BX being off the road for more than 10 of the last 20 years.

The alternative paper tax disc

In 2019 I used an online paper tax disc generator to award the car with it’s trophy for making it through the MOT. I don’t remember which site I actually used, there is a number of sites out there. It was more than likely Discy Business where you can customise a disc from any particular era. But with most of these sites, there are a number of setbacks. First is the cost, usually around £6 delivered, secondly is the awful website branding on them.

2020 paper tax disc design, drawn from scratch
2020 paper tax disc design, drawn from scratch

For 2020 there was an obvious solution, I’d simply draw my own tax disc based on the original design. The image above shows the final creation made entirely with the PaintDotNet software. The black background makes the perforations stand out. While the main fonts are a little more accurate than some of the online generators. You can download my template here;

The end result

This years paper tax disc trophy displayed for all to see
This years paper tax disc trophy displayed for all to see

It’s far from perfect but at a glance, it’s hard to tell it’s not the real thing. Even up close behind glass, the differences to the official DVLA issued paper discs aren’t too obvious. I went with the 2012 style as it was the last official version. But I do wonder if I should have gone with a more 1991 styled version. Perhaps an option for next year, once the BX has passed another MOT of course!

M

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