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Proposed toll increases for M50 and Port Tunnel 'excessive burden' on road users

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has recommended that VAT be implemented on state-owned motorway tolls.

Image: Graham Hughes/RollingNews.ie

THE RECENT RECOMMENDATION by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice that VAT should be imposed on tolls for state-owned motorways has been met with criticism.

If the recommendation is implemented, toll charges on the M50 and Port Tunnel could be increased to cover the extra cost.

The other option is that the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which aims to build transport services, will absorb the additional costs – which will take money away from services such as improving road surfaces.

Currently, the TII absorbs €17 million per year from the annual allocated roads budget to cover the cost of paying VAT on toll charges.

Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Robert Troy has said that the financial ability of road users, especially commuters and road hauliers, has to be taken into account first.

“[This increase] would put an excessive burden on motorists and commercial users, especially those who use the motorways for work,” said Troy.

Based on the costs of a round trip commute on the M50, a regular commuter can be paying upwards of €1,000 per year on mid-week tolls for getting to work. Most of these commuters have no realistic alternative but to use the M50 for getting to work.

Spokesperson for the TII, Sean O’Neill, said:

TII is disappointed with the opinion expressed by the European Committee for Justice Advocate General on the application of VAT question.

“TII will await the final ruling before providing any further comment.”

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In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum – where the issue of autonomy within the EU was hotly debated – people will be watching the EU’s enforcement of regulations upon countries with keen interest.

 Added to the EU recommendation that VAT be imposed on Irish motorways, is the recent Apple tax ruling and contentious issue of Irish Water – with the EU recommending the latter be implemented despite widespread public aversion to water charges.

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