Cantillon: Boat owners at sea over EU action on use of ‘green diesel’

Commission coming after State’s boating classes over preferential fuel tax

Boat owners have been scratching their heads over the EU action against Ireland due to the State’s alleged failure to collect tax on diesel fuel.

As reported in this newspaper on Thursday, the commission is coming after the use of “green diesel” by the State’s boating classes, initiating action in the European Court of Justice over preferential tax charged on fuel for private boats.

Fishing fleets are allowed to avail of rebated diesel, but not private leisure craft, the commission said.

But leisure boat owners have been paying the full rates of duty on diesel for many years, or at least the compliant ones have.

Under Revenue rules boaters complete form PPN1, otherwise known as the Diesel Used for Private Navigation form, and, having kept their green diesel receipts for the boating season, duly forward the tax element to the tax authority.

The reality is there is no white diesel infrastructure in inland or coastal marinas, usually just green diesel to serve the fishing industry.

Banning green diesel would cause tremendous hardship for private boaters and upheaval for those who provide marina facilities.

The resultant scheme is an honour system, but then so too is self-assessment, as many boaters have been quick to point out this week.

Whatever the commission’s view on it may be, the fact is that there is already a system in place requiring leisure boat owners to pay tax on the diesel they use.