An online petition opposed to a planned nationwide tax on car ownership garnered over 65,000 signatures at its closure, a record number for the online environment where such petitions are filed.
As of August 31, the day the petition against the car tax was handed over to the Riigikogu, the petition had been digitally signed by 65,565 people.
The Rahvaalgatus site permits anyone to file a petition with the promise that, if a thousand signatures are met, this petition is then handed over to parliament.
Veiko Lukmann, a member of the Estonian association of car owners (Autoomanike Liit), told ERR that signatures, close to 12,000 of them, had also been collected on the petition.ee environment; these signatures were then folded into the rahvaalgatus.ee site, Lukmann said, as the option to use the Smart-ID tool for ID verification, a preferred digital signature method for many people, was not available on the petition.ee site.
The relevant page stated that: "Collecting signatures has ended successfully! As the next step, the authors of the initiative will send the initiative along with collected signatures to the Parliament of Estonia."
The car owners' union, along with its director, Simmo Saar, set up the petition in mid-July, and it had already garnered around 50,000 signatures within a month.
At that point, Rahvaalgatus expert Karl-Hendrik Pallo told ERR, the petition had already set a record number of signatures for the site.
The final version of the proposed tax is set to be unveiled in September; the Ministry of Finance had produced two alternative models in July – one more broadly based on a vehicle's environmental impact through the course of its life-cycle production, use and disposal, and the other more narrowly on CO2 emissions during the period the vehicle is in use.
The tax as its name suggests will be levied on cars and vans, including those which are not roadworthy or in use. Motorcycles and trucks and other heavy vehicles will not be subject to the tax; in the latter case a separate tax system is already in place.
The tax was included in the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition agreement finalized in April, though no mention of it had been made in any party's manifesto, ahead of the March 5 Riigikogu election.
The tax would apply nationwide, unlike, for instance, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) an area which covers Greater London, England, but not the rest of the U.K., and applies an emissions standard based charge on non-compliant (in terms of emissions) road vehicles. This scheme has also met with plenty of pushback, including over its use of license plate recognition tech.
The proposed Estonian car tax would not distinguish between cars and their owners in, for instance, Tallinn or Tartu, and those in more outlying, sparsely populated areas of the country.
Editor: Andrew Whyte