Many of you will have received that lovely letter that you get at this time of the year advising that the road tax is due on your vehicle. For most of us it is no big deal as generally the bills are significantly lower than in the UK. I have to admit that during the crisis I expected them to rise significantly, after all we road users have always been a favourite target when extra revenue is needed
This tax causes much confusion amongst expats, especially those who are new to the country so let’s take a look at it. Impuesto de Vehiculos Traccion Mecanica doesn’t roll off the tongue so well even for the natives; I.V.T.M is only marginally better. Unlike in the UK where the tax is levied by DVLA for the whole country, here it is a local tax set by each Town Hall just like the tax on your property. The differences can be significant and at least one town in Alicante Province has deliberately set a low tax so that companies with large fleets of cars have offices there to enjoy the benefit. To my knowledge Alicante province is unique in that it has an organisation specifically set up to collect all local taxes on behalf of Town Halls. Called SUMA, but often referred to as SUMO, I’m not sure if this is a misrepresentation or because many of the staff are overweight, wear thongs and crouch around slapping their thighs
So, the tax is not only determined by a postcode lottery but also the power of your vehicle known as fiscal potential, so muscle motors pay more than a Smart Car. Many expats believe that it is based on the CO2 emissions; not so even though registation tax on imported vehicles is based upon these fumes

When is it due and how to I pay?
Alright, so we are lucky in having such a low tax, but when is it due? The tax is levied for the calendar year of January 1st to December 31st so it is natural to assume that the bills would arrive at Christmas time when in reality they are sent out around Easter; either way they are not gift wrapped. The bills normally list a number of banks where it can be paid and by when but save yourself the worry and set up a Direct Debit
Whomever a vehicle is registered to on 1st January each year is liable for the tax for that year, so if you sell a car in say March you may still get the bill. If you get the bill the following year it is because the person to whom you sold the vehicle has not transferred it to his name; so make sure that you as the seller deals with transferring ownership, not leaving it to the happy smiling buyer who of course will pay the costs!

Shrugging heck
As part of my business I re-register cars all over Spain. Well it would be a nice thought if I could be paid to drive all over the Peninsular visiting Ayuntamientos, joining queues to hand over money but most of the transactions are undertaken electronically. Some Town Halls are a little less sophisticated, insisting on phone calls, sending paper bills to be paid at a bank and returning the stamped receipt!
A blinder last week was a Town Hall in Murcia Province. They were very helpful over the phone, but the person responsible for the taxes was off sick that day and it was unknown when she would be back. We explained that he case was quite urgent as the client needed to drive his car out of the country a few days later with Spanish plates. You could just sense the shrug of indifference. I guess that cross-training is not on the agenda.