Department for Transport admits motorcycle tax evasion figures “were inflated”

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New tax evasion figures released today show that only 6.5 percent of bikes seen on the road during surveys are without tax – making a mockery of earlier Department for Transport reports claiming nearly 40 percent of motorcyclists dodged road tax.

The report comes just three weeks after the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee singled out motorcyclists as lawbreakers, saying 38 percent of us were dodging tax.

Then, Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: “Motorists and motorcyclists who refuse to pay road tax are stealing from law-abiding taxpayers and unlicensed cars are often associated with other forms of crime.

“Motorcyclists are particularly liable to evade road tax. Nearly 40% of motorcycles are now unlicensed.”

But now it seems we were branded as criminals on the basis of figures even the Department for Transport admits were inaccurate.

Even the highest figure mentioned in the new “Vehicle Excise Duty Evasion: 2007” report, an estimate based on the idea that as tax dodgers don’t want to be caught, they use their bikes less, only puts a figure of 9.8 percent on the number of bikes dodging tax, and the only substantiated figure, revealing how many untaxed bikes were actually seen, puts the number at just 6.5 percent.

A DfT spokesperson told MCN: “These surveys used to be almost entirely done by noting down numberplates as vehicles passed, and checking against the database to see if they were taxed.

“To improve it, this time we have used ANPR [Automatic Number Plate Recognition] for most of the survey, and although motorcycles are still done manually as ANPR cameras don’t pick up their rear number plates, it meant the data was double checked and made for a more accurate survey.

“There was less opportunity for error because bike number plates were checked against the ANPR database, and if that number came up as belonging to a car, there was clearly an error in the way the number had been noted down.

“It was the best we could do at the time, but in previous years the estimates have been inflated.”


Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis