Interest in getting rid of scrapped cars and other vehicles has been growing, precisely at a time when the planned introduction of a car tax brings into sharp relief the status of such unused and unwanted vehicles.
The new tax may see owners liable for tax on cars they no longer use, or which they no longer own – indeed the vehicle itself may no longer exist, or its whereabouts may not be known.
Scrap metal recycling firm Kuusakoski manager Urmo Viisitamm said that: "There are over 200,000 cars listed on the Estonian traffic register (Eesti liiklusregister) but which have not been driven for years, and may no longer exist. However, the car tax still has to be paid on these."
"We have been getting a lot more questions, a lot more requests. Unfortunately, there are also questions where the documentation on a car is missing since it has been, so to speak, passed from hand to hand down the years. This relates more to people in rural areas," Viisitamm went on.
The exact car tax system is yet to be revealed, and will not be until next year, though it is at ministerial preparation stage, ahead of being presented to the Riigikogu.
The deletion of old scrap cars from the register should thus be simplified, saving official owners of "phantom" cars from being liable to the tax.
Rando, one of many car enthusiasts in Estonia, told AK that the problem was a common one, even as a car has been sold for scrap yet remains on the register.
Meanwhile, Keit Kasemets, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Climate, said that in such cases: "We are planning to create options within the car register whereby people can submit a request to delete a vehicle via the Transport Board's self-service environment," adding that this would be done within the next two years.
Beyond that period, or two-three years from now, the owner of a car still listed on the register will be both liable for the tax and potentially a fine, Kasemets added.
Erle Kõomets, head of tax policy at the Ministry of Finance, meanwhile told AK that: "As of now, we are indeed planning to extend the car tax to those cars whose registration has been suspended. But we plan to make it so that if the tax comes into effect on July 1, 2024, people will have two years to get their cars in order, within the registry."
As things stand at the moment, should a car owner wish to delete their car from the register here and now, they would need to contact either the Police and Border Guard Board, the Environment Board or the Rescue Board.
The process is time-consuming and complicated, however.
Cars entered on the register before 2004 in any case can be deleted from the register by the Transport Board (Transpordiamet).
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Iida-Mai Einmaa.