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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 23, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

    Why are motorists so meek about motor tax?

    Michael McAleer

    A letter from an annoyed motorist complaining about our current tax system raises some questions as to why the Irish public are so stoic when it comes to rising taxes on their motoring transport, yet scream blue murder at the first hint that child benefit will be cut or a charge for septic tanks.

    The car still seems to be perceived as a luxury by some, regardless of its age or state of delapidation. But while that might have been the case in 1950s Ireland, these days most homes don’t use a bicycle as the main mode of transport and if they happen to live a distance away from the bus route, the car is a necessity.

    For many of these families the reason they live in suburbia is often due to budgetary constraints rather than any desire to avoid living in the troublespots of Ballsbridge, Howth or Dalkey. We already know that one-in-five households are struggling with their mortgages, that many are barely able to meet their monthly household bills and that some have already foregone health insurance for the sake of economic survival.

    So when the Government threatens to take €10 off the monthly child allowance the outcry is understandably loud from those on the financial brink. Yet if and when they demand more on motor tax, we get the usual shot of emails from annoyed motoring executives and the PR firms and then a grudging acceptance.  

    In hindsight the change to an emissions-based tax system has been a fiasco in terms of timing. While it served its purpose on the climate change debate, it’s timing could not have been worse. Some claim it was a way of encouraging the industry to move to cleaner cars, but it’s farcical to think that the multi-billion motor industry is going to be pressurised into changing its engineering lines in order to sate the demands of a small island on the west coast of Europe witha new car market smaller than that in Manchester.

    It did, however, succeed in encouraging motorists to change to cleaner cars – at least those who could afford to. The rest – those now in real financial distress – are left to foot the bill for not being able to afford to be cleaner and greener. And even if they do garner the cash to change, they quickly discover that their old car has been decimated with depreciation, because even if it’s on sale for a bargain price of €3,000 or so, it’s still shackled to an annual motor tax bill of nearly €600 or even more. Meanwhile the buyers of new BMW 520ds and the like reap the rewards of their financial ability to buy with a motor tax bill of just €104 a year. How is this in any way equitable?

    With the global motor industry focusing on engine emissions as its number one priority, the gap between new and even five-year old cars is only going to increase. As motor tax is paid on a system of emissions bands that invariably means motorists who can’t afford the latest new models with cleaner technology will have to pick up the bill.

    It seems that environmental concerns over emissions combined with an eagerness to increase tax revenue for the Government is taking precedence over fairness.

    • Laura says:

      I think we need to be a bit more French like and not accept everything that is dished out.

    • Michael Hughes says:

      There are rights and there are privileges

      It is a privilege to own a car and in fact a driving license is a privilege granted by the state which they can withdraw.

      Most people view things like a public pension or children’s allowance as a RIGHT.

      People often have an incorrect view as to what is inherently a right. However once perceived as a right they will fight for it tooth and nail.

      My small private pension (life savings) have been raided by the government because they do not think I have a right to my savings over a lifetime. Only the TARA mines employees have voiced their objections coherently.

      This democracy gives us the right to vote for egocentric personalities to regulate our lives. Now there is a useless right to which there is no alternative.

    • Angela says:

      Given the times we live in and all the modern technology available how do we not have a system where we can pay motor tax by direct debit monthly rather than be penalised financially for not having several hundred euro sitting in the bank to pay the full amount at the beginning of the 12 month period?

    • Peter Barrins says:

      @2 – That it’s a privilege to own a motor car is debatable, but it doesn’t alter the fact that are fundametnal anomalies in the motor tax system which make it inequitable and unfair – two principles of taxation, if I recall correctly.

      I do not know what the objective of motor tax revenue is – if it is to maintain the road infrastructure then the public, based on the dreadful standard of many roads, is being seriously short-changed. Motor tax should be related to usage and should be collected via fuel, which is currently the most reliable indicator of mileage covered. As it is, I suspect revenue from motor taxation is being used to fund the significant overheads of inefficient County Councils – in the same was as the extortionate rates they levy on the business sector. In the era of IT and integrated systems, it is absurd and wasteful, that each County Council operates a fully staffed motor tax office. In the UK, it is possible to tax a car at the post office.

    • Katriona says:

      Unless technology has improved, the damage is done to the environment by time the catalytic converters are heated up (journeys of 4km and under). This is the case regardless of year and make of car. Once hot enough, emissions are supposedly reduced on newer models of cars.
      Car tax based on emissions is an easy way to generate and manage revenue but goes into the pot will everything else, it is little to do with environmental protection.

    • Michelle Rogers says:

      Perhaps they realise that the very future of human life on earth may depend on our actions in the very near future??? http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/1126/1224308182362.html

    • Bernard says:

      “Motor tax should be related to usage” – I couldn’t agree more! Now that I have been encouraged (more stick than carrot) to take early retirement from the public service I drive very little, but still pay the same extortionate amount I paid when I was working – and I will not be buying a new car anytime soon on my pension. If I can keep the old banger long enough it might reach classic car status, and €25 euros p.a. road tax, should that still apply!

    • Ritchie says:

      “Meanwhile the buyers of new BMW 520ds and the like reap the rewards of their financial ability to buy with a motor tax bill of just €104 a year. How is this in any way equitable?” – I totally agree with this, and with the governments impending decision of increasing the tax from €104 to €170 a year for band A in this years budget, according to an article in The Sunday TImes. If you can afford a buy any car over €30,000 you should easily afford to contribute more to taxing such a vehicle, especially if it is taxed in band A/B. It really was on the cards that this would happen as more and more fuel efficient cars are being sold in response to the emissions based car tax system/rising fuel prices. Its simply a balancing between the old car tax system based on engine size v the new emissions based system.

    • glenn says:

      it should be going down not up, anyway to take more money from plp , and its not for better roads , more like better suits

    • Irishpaul says:

      It’s a complete joke this whole enviroment tax Ireland can sim[ply not afford to go green at this time i live in rural mayo where there is a bus to Dublin twice a day other than that nothing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What are we supposed to do walk ten miles to shop everyday?????? Childrens allowance????? where my car allowance? I know people with kids who use the money to holiday in fecking France

      I am so angry about all this money going to bailing out Euro banks and we have nothing here in the West

      These guys ……….these politicians……….. who do they think they’re dealing with…..cut social welfare .cut childrens allowance………cut all this huge money going to people who contribute nothing we we are paying out way to much 50% cut across the board !!!!!!!!!!


    • RRenée says:

      I just use my little Punto (from the last Century) around the village where I live to shop local. I don’t use the motorways and take dart into the Capital or train further afield…….also, rarely use the national roads and yet I pay (online) €87 every three months. Am I stupid or what? Couldn’t we types have a special sticker and pay less tax or something? Hmmm……..Now I’m thinking specially made little “town cars” made easily identifiable by shape/colour so they couldn’t go outside the town limits……and all 4X4′s banned from town……..special parking lots at the perimeter of the town where people could park their town cars and hop into their motorway vehicles………..O and the town cars could be rented from the town council and be tax free………

    • Benny Kevitt says:

      The Minister for Finance has announced consultation with the motor industry about the emissions based taxed regime. Not alone did this regime seriously undermine the motor tax base, its introduction was grossly unfair to motorists driving low emission vehicles who were denied the lower tax rates solely because their vehicles were registered before 1 January 2008. Emission data have been available since 2002 and the vehicles registered since then should have been included in the new regime. Had this been done at the outset the tax-take could have been better constructed to avoid the problem which the Minister must now resolve. I ask that he broaden the scope of his review to redress this injustice and give us a new tax regime which does not discriminate against motorists because their vehicles were registered before 1 January 2008.

    • Karl says:

      If the government was serious about being fair then they would adopt a european style motor tax system that is collected at the pumps. That way everyone has no choice but to pay tax or not drive, you dont need dozens of staff to issue disks, etc and the Gardai wouldnt be wasting their time chasing dodgers.

      It would also mean that I would only be paying motor tax once like other nationalities driving in ireland. Compare that to the current system where I pay Irish motor tax then also pay it in France / Spain or wherever via petrol but a vehicle from outside Ireland driving here doesnt pay a penny!

      (in regards Michaels pension, you chose to invest in a speculative pension instead of a fixed one probable because it offered a higher reward if it came good. YOUR choice not the governments)

    • Damian Maguire says:

      If the government was serious about a green style motor tax why cant we pay on the emission\smog reading as recorded on the NCT certificate that all cars must pass every 2yrs or as it is now yearly on cars 10yrs plus.

      An emissions\smog reading is taken as part of the NCT,

      Take it to the tax office and pay according to the band that your car falls into.

      That way people with older cars that are serviced\maintained correctly help save the planet and save a few quid.


    • ray neville says:

      After paying my Motor Tax for the past 40 years I have been forced off the road by this daft penal Irish Motor Tax.

      My annual car tax is €1000 for a 1993 car, that i drive 5000 miles per annum.

      My neighbour has a new BMW 520d which he drives 20,000 miles per annum, emits 3 times my CO2 yet he only pays €215.

      I have had enough.

      I started an ePetition at: http://www.tinyurl/cartaxpetition

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