Buses And Light Vehicles Should Not Be Taxed With The Road Use Fee
The Chamber does not support the European Commission’s plan to extend the road use fee charged so far from only heavy goods vehicles to buses and give the Member States the possibility to establish the same tax for light vehicles. The main criticism is aimed at the possibility to tax buses.
The European Commission sent to the Member States for expressing opinion, the amendment proposals on Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures. The Commission proposed expanding taxes in the future on all heavy vehicles, not only heavy goods vehicles, including buses. Additionally, there was a proposal to provide Member States with the possibility to establish the road and use tax for lighter vehicles. This would mean that if so wished, the states can tax road use for passenger cars, mini vans and vans.
Generally, the Chamber agrees that for heavy vehicles, distinguishing between heavy vehicles used for the carriage of goods and heavy vehicles utilising the road infrastructure for other purposes might not be justified. However, the Chamber cannot agree with the plan to expand to buses any of the road and use fees established for heavy vehicles.
The aim of the bus transport is to promote environmentally friendly approach, save money and decrease the load on roads, being an alternative for using passenger cars. If road use fee as to applied on buses, it would hinder the promotion of public transport and would limit the possibilities of its use, which in turn would force passengers to use passenger cars instead of public transport and increase further the exploitation of roads and environmental pollution.
The overall feedback from entrepreneurs on the taxation options with road and use fees is mostly negative. Considering the recent domestic tax amendments, the entrepreneurs do not have a favourable attitude towards the additional taxation option. If we take into account that from 2020, the support sums of the European structural funds will be decreased, the investments into the Estonian road network could also start decreasing. There is reason to fear that the taxation opportunities created (including taxation of light vehicles) could be applied in order to compensate them.
If the proposals are passed in their current form on the EU level, it would be up to the member states themselves to decide if and to what extent the road and use fees should be established. The taxes imposed on heavy goods vehicles should be extended on all heavy vehicles and buses by each Member State.
See the Chamber’s official opinion here (in Estonian):