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Drivers will have to declare cars as 'off road' before tax runs out

A change to the motor tax laws, confirmed yesterday, will end a system which could allow some drivers to escape motor tax.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A CLAMPDOWN on motor tax evaders will require all drivers to declare in advance if their car will be off the road for a lengthy period of time.

The changes, contained in draft legislation published yesterday, will end the system where drivers can drive without motor tax and claim – if they are not caught in the meantime – that their car had not been driven on a public road.

It is not unusual for motorists, particularly in some areas with relatively few Garda checkpoints, to continue driving while their motor tax has lapsed – and to explain the gap in their cover by saying that their car was in repair or storage for the time it was not covered.

When passed by the Oireachtas, the new system would require drivers to instead declare in advance if their car will be off the road.

Within a month of a tax disc expiring, the owner of a vehicle will be able to indicate in advance that their car could be off the road for between three and 12 months.

Announcing the changes, environment minister Phil Hogan said there were many legitimate reasons why a car could be taken off the road for some time, such as temporarily moving abroad for work reasons, or the need of significant repairs.

“There will be no change in the rules for those who pay their motor tax on time, or those who end up paying arrears where they let their motor tax slip from time to time,” he said.

“We are targeting those who abuse the system and evade paying their motor tax, no more and no less,” he stressed.

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Hogan said the new rules should be welcomed by honest road users, whose taxes had to go towards subsiding the estimated €55 million that is lost to drivers who drive without tax for some parts of the year.

Though the legislation allows a fee to be charged for anyone declaring their car as being off the road, Hogan said there were no charges to apply one in the initial stages of the scheme.

Read: 60 per cent of people struggling to keep their car on the road

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Gavan Reilly

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