Governed or Bullied?
Motor tax is a bit of a racket. In theory, we pay it for the maintenance and upgrading of our road system. A recent addition to this is the imposition of a fine factor inside the motor tax because cars are not flipper-friendly. Apparently, the bigger the engines the more carbons emitted and flipper just hates that.
That's the theory of motor tax Irish style. In reality our road tax is being used to prop up Irish Water, as we heard not too long ago and local authorities are using other funds to look after our roads. EU money built the motorways and the Government sold off stretches to tolling companies for a song. That means more money you must pay to drive.
Now I used to like cars until I realized they were the single biggest drain on my meagre resources. You pay VAT on the purchase of a car, VAT on the (expensive) fuel to run it, VAT on the bills to keep it on the road and tax for using the road as well. Then there are the myriad of fines for not being perfect all of the time. Car Insurance which is compulsory, also has VAT added and most of us need a car just to get to work and pay income tax. So if you were to lose your job all of a sudden, the car becomes a luxurious liability.
In the past, you just parked it and perhaps even advertised it for sale. You would have reasoned that you aren't using the damn thing, you are emitting no carbons so you owe nothing to anybody. Your motor is off the road with the battery running down and the tyres going flat. For you, your car is a temporary memory until times get better.
I mentioned bad laws in a recent post and one of these was snuck in during August 2013. Now motorists who forget or fail to declare their car is off the road will be forced to pay arrears and at least three months' motor tax under tough new rules aimed at clamping down on evasion. The Department of the Environment said that anyone planning not to drive their car on a public road must tell their local tax office at least three months in advance. How's that for pure bureaucratic cheek?
You normally do not get much notice of a redundancy and what happens if you accidentally fall down the stairs and are made suddenly unable to drive? Are you supposed to anticipate such events three months in advance? At the time this law was passed, the then Environment Minister Phil Hogan said the system would deal on a local basis with cases where, for example, a person fell ill suddenly and could not use their car but could not declare it was off the road to their local tax office. I suggest that the sick person may not even be able to get out of bed to be 'dealt with locally.' And what does, "The system would deal on a local basis with cases" really mean? Is this the wink and elbow language of delight? Do you give the nod to a Garda you know? No you don't!
The bill clearly states that, "Forms will be submitted directly to motor tax offices or online, instead of at Garda stations." So do you know someone in the Motor Tax Office? This kind of nonsense infuriates me. It is political double-speak where the meat of this new law states firmly that, "The non-use declaration must be made three months in advance." It is obvious then that any "deal on a local basis," must be done by knowing somebody in authority. Otherwise the new (bad) law is black and white and the Gardai are entitled to fine you. Remember, a non-taxed car can be confiscated.
This is a bad law that doesn't make sense to any normal person and it pre-supposes that all of us are just looking for ways to break the law. I don't like the tone of that but I'm sure you agree though that if politicians make bad laws, (for their own reasons), then ordinary decent honest people might just react by thinking, to hell with that. Look at the water tax as an example of it! This opens a further debate which should prompt you to consider some more. Do we obey our laws voluntarily because we believe it is for the common good or do we begrudgingly obey them because of the consequences of not doing so? Are we being governed or bullied?