The Government has refused to remove increased charges for those who opt to renew their motor tax on a quarterly or half-yearly basis rather than annually, despite claims it is penalising poorer members of society.
Cork County Council wrote to the Government asking it to introduce the same system as for local property tax (LPT) where homeowners have the option of monthly payments at no extra cost.
The average motorist who renews their motor tax every six months pays 11% more than the yearly rate, while those who pay quarterly are charged 14% more.
The Fianna Fáil leader on the council, councillor Seamus McGrath, won unanimous cross-party support at a recent meeting when he said poorer people were being penalised because they can’t afford to pay for a full year’s motor tax in one go.
He pointed out that as they were also facing a huge increase in fuel bills, the motor tax payment system needed to be altered to help them.
The council requested this to be done in a letter to Eamon Ryan, the transport minister.
It received a reply from his junior minister, Hildegarde Naughton’s office, saying the Government won’t remove the extra percentage charges for the six- and three-month motor tax discs.
Her private secretary, Chris Smith, said the extra charges were needed to meet administrative costs.
"The differential takes account of the extra workload for staff in motor tax offices and the driver and vehicle computer division in processing non-annual renewals as well as the resultant printing costs that arise, including the issuing of renewal notices," Mr Smith wrote.
He claimed that if there wasn’t an extra percentage applied to non-yearly applicants it would result in a loss to the State of €37m.
Mr McGrath said he was “extremely disappointed” with the reply from Ms Naughton’s office, especially as people paying LPT were facilitated with the option of monthly payments at no extra cost.
“The same principle should apply to motor tax," Mr McGrath said.
"Renewing motor tax should be a very streamlined process with minimal costs involved,” he said.
“In these times of record high inflation where many motorists are under severe financial pressure, it is incredible that a simple change to the system to ease the burden on motorists is not considered favourably by the Department of Transport.
"Unfortunately, this system disproportionately penalises less well-off individuals and families as they are not in a position to pay their motor tax bill in a single payment and they may also have older vehicles with higher motor tax.”