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Tax offices inundated with motorists ahead of ‘off road’ deadline

Minister Phil Hogan has told vehicle owners that once the stamp of their application is prior to 30 September, they will be deemed compliant.

The Motor Tax office in Kilkenny.
The Motor Tax office in Kilkenny.
Image: Shane Elliffe

Updated 11.21pm

TAX OFFICES ACROSS the country have been inundated with motorists today ahead of the deadline which changes the way vehicles can been declared ‘off the road’.

Queues are running out the doors of offices in Dublin and elsewhere as the 1 October date approaches.

From that date, all drivers will have to declare in advance if their car will be off the road for a lengthy period of time.

Previously, vehicle owners could explain a gap in their motor tax cover by saying that their car was in repair or storage for the time it was not covered – once they had received sign-off from a member of An Garda Síochána. However, no check to ensure the truthfulness of the claim was required.

It is estimated that the Exchequer loses about €55 million a year to drivers who drive without tax for certain periods.

In the 12 months to end-July 2012, there were 539,000 garda-witnessed declarations made. While the Department of Transport believes there are genuine cases, it suspects there was “widespread abuse” of the loophole.

“This level of evasion of motor tax is unfair to the majority who do pay their motor tax conscientiously,” it said when notifying the public of the change.

In a case where a person declares a car off the road but is subsequently discovered driving it, potential sanctions include fines and convictions for making false statements, as well as existing penalties for non-display of a valid motor tax disc.

A changeover period from July to 30 September had been given, so next Tuesday is the real deadline. From now on, vehicles cannot be declared ‘off the road’ for a period shorter than three months.

In an update this afternoon, Minister Phil Hogan said he was “aware that a certain amount of last minute activity” has arisen from the change.

“Once the initial change is in place the process will be very straightforward – motor tax is either renewed or the vehicle is declared off the road in the month before tax, or a previous off-road declaration, is due to be renewed,” he said.

He also noted that “anybody whose application to declare a vehicle off the road is received in a motor tax office by close of business on Monday, either by post or submitted in person, will be deemed to have complied with the deadline in the legislation, even if the form is in some respect incomplete or incorrectly completed”.

“Applicants will be contacted over the next few weeks to rectify the forms. Postal applications postmarked on or before 30 September will be regarded as having been received by the deadline.”

imageFirst published at 10.45am

Related: Drivers will have to declare cars as ‘off road’ before tax runs out

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