Speed cameras may catch tax evaders
on 08/02/2013 00:00:00
He said the department was seeking legal advice on the controversial proposal to ensure it could use data captured by speed cameras for such a purpose. He also informed the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that there were concerns the measure could undermine public acceptance of speed cameras.
The public spending watchdog body heard the Government raises on average €1bn each year from motor tax revenue. However, it is estimated that there is an evasion rate of 5%, largely due to false declarations of vehicles being "off the road".
Mr O'Mahony said the Government had agreed to close such a loophole through legislation which was due to come before the Oireachtas in the next few months. He claimed it would require motorists to declare in advance plans to keep their vehicle kept off the road in order to avoid paying motor tax.
However, plans to use the speed camera network, which operates 45 mobile cameras around the country as well as fixed cameras at a number of locations, could spark public controversy.
The PAC heard that a survey of vehicles passing through the M50 tolling point over four days in 2010 and 2011 indicated an evasion rate of about 5% for motor tax.
Mr O'Mahony said changes to the motor tax system in Britain in 2004, which required motorists to declare in advance that their vehicle would be off the road to avoid paying motor tax, had seen evasion rates fall from 5% to 0.7%.
He hoped that plans to follow the British model would result in a similar reduction in evasion rates here.
Comptroller & Auditor General Seamus McCarthy told the committee there was no formal system to track motor tax evasion.
He also criticised the fact that the National Vehicle and Driver File suggested there were 2.6m vehicles on Irish roads which were not taxed up to date.
However, Mr McCarthy said this figure was likely to include a large number of cars which were no longer in use. He said 170,000 vehicles had never been taxed, while a further 800,000 had not been taxed in the past 10 years.
The C&AG also said there was no system in place to follow-up 4m final reminder notices to motorists for non-payment of motor tax in the five years up to 2010.
He said 40% of motorists issued with a fixed charge notice by gardaí for the non-display of a valid motor tax disc between 2008 and 2011 had not paid - around 97,000 vehicles.
Of 185,000 vehicles issued with such notices during the period, some 40,000 had no motor tax paid up until 2012 - a fifth of the total.