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You can’t avoid road tax

AS most drivers know and expect, they have to pay annual road taxes (Impuesto de Rodaje or Impuesto sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica), in Tenerife.

The sum owing varies, depending on the size of the engine, the cv, and now, sometimes, on the emission rates specified by certain town halls.

Each town hall has slightly different rates and, generally, has different times of the year when these can be paid – known as a “voluntary period”.

You can normally check out the dates at the local SAC centres or online at the relevant town hall’s official web page – eg: for the municipality of Arona.

Town halls usually provide a period of six to eight weeks in which these taxes can be paid without incurring fines or interest payments.

If, however, you forget to pay during this time and cough up after the end of that year, a charge of 5% or more is normally levied when the payment is eventually paid.

If the sum remains unpaid and you wish to sell your car and arrange a transfer of ownership, this is now “blocked” by Tráfico until the road tax is paid.

Some town halls automatically advise Tráfico directly when payment has been made. But others don’t, and the original road tax receipt must be shown at Tráfico for them to erase the block (embargo) from their system.

Most town halls automatically advise Tráfico of outstanding taxes at the beginning of each new calendar year – on or around 1st January. Failure to pay can result in your bank account being embargoed to collect the money that way.

It happens when the town hall places notifications in the Official Bulletin showing the debt outstanding, with the sums and the individual’s NIE/DNI or company CIF number.

This is usually published twice, at which point the debt is then sent to Hacienda to deal with. They will send you letters, generally two or three, so it is important that both Tráfico and Hacienda have your correct address.

Otherwise, you will not receive any of these letters. The last letter from Hacienda generally comes with a Carta de Pago, which is like a payment receipt, and can be paid in to any bank.

By this time, however, not only will you owe the road taxes plus a fine, but also interest and costs. So so it will prove to be considerably more than in the first place.

If you do not receive these letters or choose to ignore them, Hacienda will advise those banks with which you hold accounts, and an (embargo) will be placed, preventing you from withdrawing money.

This process is normally carried out within a 15-day period from notification to the money actually being taken. You can, if you notice this, go to the bank, which will be able to reveal the reference number for you to contact Hacienda to find out what it is.

At this point, there is no way of stopping Hacienda taking the money. And if there has been an error, which occasionally happens, you would have to make a reclamation, which can take considerable time and paperwork.

The moral here is to be aware that although there are no tax discs displayed in cars, road taxes are due and payable annually – and that it is in your interest to pay them. And remember, they are generally considerably cheaper than the UK.

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