A disability advocate faces losing her only mode of transport due to an Vat bill of over €23,000.
Limerick woman Leigh Gath said the Vat and VRT bills for her modified van represent another example of legislation discriminating against people with disabilities.
“Why are people with disabilities getting nailed to the wall with VRT and Vat?"
"People with disabilities don’t have the choice of using electric vehicles and are nailed to the wall because of the emissions.”
Ms Gath met Finance Minister Michael McGrath last month to discuss her predicament after it was highlighted in the Irish Examiner.
“I thought the meeting went really well... Minister McGrath is the head of finance, and should be in a position to make changes if he really wants to.”
She estimates about 30 people face similar challenges — some have taken loans to cover bills of up to €40,000.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) rates are based on CO2 emissions, however, disability lifts, for example, do not fit with electric car batteries.
Under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme, Ms Gath received relief of €22,000 for VRT and Vat. However, after bringing the van home, she was told of an additional Vat bill of €23,372.
The need to reform the scheme was highlighted in a Transport Working Group report, published last month by the Department of Disability.
It said the scheme was “outdated”, and should be addressed “as a matter of priority.”
The working group noted support from Mr McGrath for an overhaul of the scheme.
It refers explicitly to people in Ms Gath’s situation, saying “there will still be a need to provide support for the purchase of vehicles in some instances” due to “substantial Vat and VRT expenses”.
HSE one-off funding of €8m in 2021 supported disability service providers to replace ageing vehicles, but as an individual, Ms Gath was not eligible.
Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte’s spokesman said it would be “incumbent” on the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners, which are responsible for administering the Disabled Drivers Scheme, “to carefully consider how the recommendations of the Transport Working Group ought to be advanced”.
He said the working group met disability advocates.
A Department of Finance spokesman said: “Unfortunately, the minister, whilst appreciating the difficulties that this Vat charge places upon the individual, is not in a position under the current legislation to waive the payment of this sum, as it could create a precedent for the treatment of Vaton the import of new vehicles generally from the UK.”