Disability rights group wants exemption from planned car tax

Cars in Tallinn.
Cars in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Estonian Chamber of People with Disabilities (EPIK) would like to see disabled people exempt from the government's planned car tax. EPIK pointed out, that the introduction of the tax would have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for disabled people.

In a letter addressed to several ministries, the Estonian Chamber of People with Disabilities (EPIK) pointed out that the proposed car tax would put people with disabilities in a difficult situation, as often the only way to get around involves  owning a car.

The introduction of a car tax would place disabled people, who live in the country's less-densely populated areas at a particular disadvantage.

"Disabled people face significantly greater barriers to participate in society than able-bodied people. By adding a new restriction, the state will further limit the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in society, including going to work."

EPIK also said, that for people with disabilities themselves, or for those whose loved ones have a disability, a car is not a luxury, but an indispensable means of transport in order to be able to get to work, school and access essential services.

"For a disabled person, owning a car for a disabled is already a very large expense from their monthly budget, and the addition of a new tax would be only detrimental to disabled people's quality of life."

For a disabled person, who already receives social assistance from the local authorities, for example €10-20 from a food bank, the introduction of a car tax (even if it is only €10 a month) would be a huge additional expense, said EPIK.

"Buying a car is so expensive that it is not possible for people to buy new ones, so people save money to buy a second-hand car. Add the initial registration fee, which runs into the thousands of euros, on top of that, so you can end up not buying a car at all and just being in a difficult situation."

The letter also addressed the argument, which is often put forward, that people with disabilities can use social transport in order to travel to work.

"Unfortunately, social transport is not uniform across local authorities and so does not cover the transport needs of people with disabilities.  It is not possible to use social transport to travel to work from Tallinn to Viimsi for instance.

In addition, from January 1, 2023, the commuting allowance, which had been paid by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) to people with reduced work capacity, was abolished. Situations where people are subject to capacity and time limits when using social transport are also not rare, even though the Social Welfare Act entitles people to social services on the basis of need."

On Wednesday, ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported, that a preliminary version of the proposed car tax includes a one-off charge for car registration along with an annual charge, which is expected to be between €5-20 per month, depending on the size, power and age of the car. Official plans for the car tax are expected to be made public in the second half of July.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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