Motor tax changes may catch out more than just the cheats
New rules mean car owners could be taxed for off-the-road or even scrapped cars
The Department told us that special arrangements have been put in place to allow friends or family members of those overseas (or indeed, those indisposed by illness or physical ailments) to make and sign the first declaration for them, but it must be a worry that an online declaration system is still not up and running.
Then there are the classic car owners. Thomas Heavey of Irish Vintage Scene magazine firmly believes that the Government is setting many of us up for a fall with the new legislation.
“I think they have made a big mistake and I think that there’s not enough work being done by the Government at the moment to tell people about it. There’s going to be so many people that have left the country, with cars undeclared, who are working abroad and this is going to hurt them.
“Also, people who may not be interested in motoring events or affairs, this may not come to their attention,” he says.
“There’s no question that we agree with the Government in principle because there is a huge loss in tax, people declaring a vehicle off the road that’s not off the road.
“But then you have people who genuinely have cars that don’t know about this new legislation and they’re also unaware of the repercussions if they don’t declare off the road, and there are going to be big fines for this, and they may be forced to back-tax the cars even if it was legitimately off the road.”
The fines and penalties for not having your car properly taxed could be significant too. During the three-month lead-in to the new legislation being fully enforced, any back taxes owed on the car must be paid, along with an 8.3 per cent interest charge.
When this lead-in period ends in September, the penalty will be the arrears, plus three months’ tax plus 10 per cent interest. And then there’s the €4,000 fine and even a six-month custodial sentence for making a fraudulent off-the-road declaration.
The worry is, or should be, that many people will not be caught cheating but will be caught napping.
“The thing that the Government needs to do is let the declaration stand as off the road until you need to bring it back on to the road, not for the three-, six- or 12-month limits that are there at the moment” says Heavey.
“I have cars in storage now that I intend to restore but I know that I won’t get to them for maybe five years, but now I have to declare them off the road annually.
“We’re putting huge administration onto a public and a public system that just doesn’t need the extra strain. Just make it one declaration, for life. Keep it simple.”