July 15, 2011

European Commission to investigate Irish Revenue

As readers are aware Senior members of the association recently travelled to Brussells in order to give evidence at a hearing of the European Commission. We are happy to report that our members were given a full opportunity to make their case and that an investigation into the continuing charging of customs duties/VRT on vehicles in Ireland is now being launched by the commission. The Commissioners expressed disbelief that questionable legislation most likely in breach of European free trade laws had been allowed to continue unchallenged and stated that governments on the European mainland would not have been allowed the same latitude given to our island nation’s rulers.

 At the heart of the matter is the debate into whether VRT is a customs duty or an internal tax. Although the treaty of Rome was signed in 1972 our government were given a free pass up to 1993 to put their house in order and phase out customs duties or taxes having an equivalent  effect (Article 14 (1) and Article 25 Treaty of Rome). Therefore December 31st 1992 should have been the last day for expensive cars and many other goods for the Irish Population. Of course we never got our cheap cars beause on January 1st 1993 VRT was introduced and guess what? It actually amounted to the same thing as the original customs duties and so is clearly in breach of the legislation. This is what the commission must now decide upon. As with all things legal the wheels of power grind slowly but we can consider this a battle one in the war against illegal and unjustifiable taxes. 

We are receiving a lot of calls from people being harrassed by members of the Gardai and Customs whilst driving non Irish registered cars. Stories abound of people being left in dangerous situations on main roads putting their lives at risk whilst their property was driven away by agents of the state. The officers in question would have you believe that they have the right to take your vehicle and leave you on the side of the road. Regardless of what you are told by gardai or customs the basic premise in our legal system is innocent until proven guilty.

There are many legitimate reasons why a resident of the South could find themsemves driving a non Southern Irish registered vehicle and if the law or revenue feel they have a case then thats what the courts are there to decide. All European citizens are entitled to free movement and taking legally held private property from EU citizens breaches fundamental EU rights. If any person is being threatened or coerced into handing over their vehicle or feel that their personal safety is at risk then politely refuse to surrender your  vehicle and offer your name and address to the officers, agreeing if required to produce insurance or other documents. Due process must be served and Kangaroo courts at the side of the road where Gardai And Customs become judge, jury and executioner are not acceptable.

Watch this site for further news on the EU investigation.

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