Henn Põlluaas: Car tax as a necessity-based measure for Reform backers

Henn Põlluaas
Henn Põlluaas Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Reform Party has been saying for years how targeted benefits are more effective than blanket schemes. They could follow the same logic when it comes to taxes, and based on the personal state logic as outlined in the coalition agreement, car tax should only be laid down for Reform voters.

NGO Institute for Societal Studies recently ran a poll on how many people want to see a car tax in Estonia, which revealed that all demographic groups in Estonia except one oppose the tax plan. The new levy is opposed by young people and the elderly, both men and women, Estonians and Russians, owners of vehicles and those who take the bus, even most voters of the Social Democrats and Eesti 200. The only group to back the tax was made up of Reform Party members and supporters.

Reform has been saying for years how support measures should be necessity-based and clearly targeted. They even talked of society's sense of justice when slashing large families' benefits. In the interests of the consistency of the squirrels' (Reform mascot – ed.) policy and rhetoric, the necessity-based approach and social justice should also be observed when it comes to tax measures. There is even demand for it this time.

The Kallas administration has also promised people a personal state approach. And so, it would be a true data-driven personal state solution to only lay down the car tax on basis of necessity for people who deem it necessary – Reform voters.

The government has not ordered a single study or effects analysis regarding its car tax plan, nor does it intend to do so. Because the Institute of Societal Studies' poll is the only broad-based study pertaining to the tax plan, the necessity-based tax measures can lean on its findings.

Laying down the car tax only for Reform supporters would make it a genuinely targeted and necessity-based tax measure and one introduced with the principles of social justice and the personal state approach in mind. Because Estonia is a free country, everyone would retain the right to pull their support for the Reform Party and be exempt from having to pay the tax. Or vice versa.

In any case, the whole of society stands to benefit. Reform would benefit in finally being able to realize necessity-based and targeted measures, which have always been the best and wisest. The coalition agreement would make good on its promise of personal state solutions. The party could wash off the stain of having lied to the people by demonstrating that it can keep promises made in the coalition agreement. Thirdly, Reform could monitor their true level of support in society by keeping an eye on car tax payments received by the Ministry of Finance and would no longer have to put its faith in dubious polls and ratings agencies.

True-blue Reform supporters would be able to demonstrate their affection for their beloved prime minister Kaja Kallas through paying the tax. They could treat it as a Reform Party supporter tax or a fee meant to ward against EKREIKE (the coalition of EKRE, the Center Party and Isamaa – ed.) returning to the government. Those admittedly few people who have fallen for [Minister of Finance] Mart Võrklaev's fairy tale of how the tax would somehow help fight climate warming could use it as a way to secure their climate pardon.

Next, it would benefit everyone who is not a fan of the Reform Party or the car tax. They would simply be exempt from paying it and would get to keep more money to spend on themselves and their families. More than a few children could be sent to hobby school as a result. We would avoid rural area residents and large families going bankrupt and putting too much pressure on people with disabilities. Local governments, already hard-pressed to make ends meet, would gain from not having to pay an additional levy on their fleets. The central government would also avoid having to move sums from one pot to another, with the exception of the vehicles used by Reform ministers of course. Perhaps we could even keep a few schools open this way.

In general, the entire economic environment would benefit as the car tax would not contribute to price hikes for most goods and services. So, the state, companies and people would only gain to benefit. On the one hand, loyal Reform voters contributing to the state budget would be good. On the other, it would be even better if the tax yielded no revenue as it would mean Reform running out of backers and their cabinet of lies coming crashing down. That would perhaps be the best outcome for Estonia as it would finally put an end to the Võrklaevish and wholly unempathetic practice of taking the Estonian people to the cleaners. Now that would be a truly innovative reform!


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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