Estonia's Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform) said that there will probably be a simpler way of deleting from the vehicle register cars that are still listed but haven't been used for a long time so that their official owners would not be charged car tax.
"We will likely make it much simpler in the near future. This might require rules to be specified or certain database developments," Michal told Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" program on Tuesday, talking about an estimated 220,000 registered vehicles that are not being used.
If an owner wants to delete their car from the register today, they have to go to the Environment Board, Police and Border Guard Board or the Rescue Board, describe the circumstances and receive documentation which needs to be taken to the Transport Administration for the vehicle's removal, the minister added.
Michal admitted that the government does not know how many such vehicles are out there, while the problem is sure to concern tens if not one hundred thousand people.
"We are talking about a considerable part of all registered vehicles. And we have decided to introduce a solution of how people could deregister unused vehicles conveniently inside a few years after we have our car tax debate, so we could tidy up the register and make sure we get no more vehicles with suspended registration," he said.
"If only by removing vehicles from the register if the owner reports them destroyed. Should the car turn up again in one piece or be seen driving somewhere and it turn out that the person was trying to avoid paying car tax, they would be charged double of what they would have paid in tax during that period," Michal described his view, emphasizing that it is just an example.
Michal would hold off on cheaper rates for older vehicles
Michal also commented on the position of Ministry of Climate Secretary General Keit Kasemets that cars older than 20 years should not be taxed as low as has been proposed by the Ministry of Finance.
"We believe the car tax should be geared toward climate and environmental policy. /.../ We should not promote the registration of older vehicles by design – if you want to motivate certain behavior using a tax or excise duty, you should not create a situation where people might be tempted to opt for an older vehicle. Therefore, I believe that the age component should be more modest, if indeed it is needed at all," the climate minister said. "Rather, the car tax could be somewhat simpler, and we would prefer a CO2-based tax that would consider emissions. Looking at Europe, CO2 is an important factor in the car taxes of 21 Member States."
Commenting on Estonia's obligation of reducing CO2 emissions in transport by 24 percent by the year 2030, Michal said that the incoming car tax will contribute less than could be achieved by switching all Tallinn taxis to electric power or switching all of road transport to diesel fuel the use of which emits less CO2.
"But it will have an effect on people's behavior and also figures, so it is a little unfair to call it a property tax pure and simple," the minister added.
Michal said that Estonia needs to revisit its entire mobility structure and try to cut back on the number of trips that need to be made by car by introducing more effective city planning and promoting public and goods transport, especially on the railroad.
Editor: Marcus Turovski