“Major breakthrough” in VRT fight

Election candidate Ryan Stewart has been campaigning against VRT for a number of years.
Election candidate Ryan Stewart has been campaigning against VRT for a number of years.

A major breakthrough in the Inishowen-led fight against Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) has been hailed today by Inishowen election candidate Ryan Stewart and Marian Harkin MEP.

According to Mr Stewart, the breakthrough may well mean that people who have legally imported a vehicle from outside Ireland will be entitled to a refund of some of the VRT they have already paid,.

He said it could be backdated to anyone who has imported a vehicle to 2009.

Mr Stewart has been fighting the legality of the tax for the past three years with some success.

He said while he has proved the illegalities of the tax many times since, this latest development, where a petition he made to the European Commission has been accepted, case should mean the end of VRT in Ireland.

He said: “I have shown that VRT is illegal in many instances, but this is the case I have been waiting for. I have proven to the Commission that the Irish government are in breach of EU treaties.”

Mr Stewart said he appreciated there had been numerous complaints in relation to VRT and that “as a national tax, the Irish goverment is free to levy taxes as it sees fit.”

However, he added “as long as they are in harmony with EU law this particular issue of how VRT is calculated in Ireland means that those who import vehicles from outside of Ireland pay more in tax compared to vehicles purchased in Ireland, and that this is a breach of Article 110, and proves that our laws are out of sync with European law.”.

Mr Stewart said that when an Irish citizen buys a vehicle in Ireland, that originated in Ireland from new, they are purchasing a vehicle which holds on to a residual amount of VRT. However, when purchasing from outside of Ireland, they pay more to import such a vehicle. The problem arises because when someone legally imports a vehicle to Ireland, the car is evaluated on its Irish market selling price, which already includes VRT. The revenue Commissioners then add VRT to that price, without stripping back the VRT already included.

He said this “basically means” that if the Irish price is €10,000, on average VRT bands, the average overcharge is €560.

He said: “Because this charge is in excess of the domestic cost of purchasing a vehicle, it acts as a Customs duty, which is illegal under EU law. It has been very difficult to prove until now, but I have found a way to prove it“