The head of the Association of Estonian International Road Carriers, Einar Vallbaum, finds that not offering truck drivers the possibility to pay the road tax at filling stations is a major fault of the system. A switch effective Jan. 1 this year got rid of this previously available option.
"There are many carriers from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland who come here and are genuinely surprised when they cannot pay the road user tax at filling stations," Vallbaum told daily Postimees, adding that failure to offer that possibility is significantly undermining the collection of the tax.
According to latest information, the Road Administration is holding negotiations with operators of chains of filling stations to make payment of the tax possible at stations.
Vallbaum said that, in addition, the government should make payment of the tax possible on the ships of Tallink that bring trucks from Finland and Sweden to Estonia.
Another shortfall, according to Vallbaum, is Estonia's decision not to issue road tax stickers to the drivers for whose vehicle the tax has been paid.
The Road Administration meanwhile argues that issuing stickers and then physically checking vehicles does not make sense, as Estonia is a digital country.
Contacted by Postimees, officials at the Road Administration admitted that checks on the roads have revealed that not all vehicle operators are paying the tax.
"Random checks have revealed that for many vehicles moving on our roads the tax has not been paid," Tarmo Mõttus, deputy director of the Road Administration, said.
He refused to offer any estimates as to the amount of tax revenue that Estonia has missed as a result.
In the first couple of weeks, the new tax has brought almost €3.6 million into the state coffers. Most of it, 65 percent, has been paid by Estonian haulers. The next-biggest payers are companies from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in that order.
The government expects to collect €17 million in road tax per year.
As of Jan. 1, a road network toll has to be paid for trucks with a vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tons using public roads in Estonia. The liability to pay the toll lies on the owner of the vehicle, or the authorized user of the vehicle if the name of the authorized user has been entered in the motor register.
In case the tax isn't paid, both the owner and the driver of the vehicle can be fined. The authorities exercising supervision over the payment of the toll have the right to remove the driver from driving the vehicle until the toll has been paid.
The tax can be paid online at Teetasu.ee.
The size of the payable tax depends on the gross vehicle weight of the truck and the trailer, the EURO emission class and the number of axles of the vehicle. The daily rate of the fee is between #9 and €12, and the yearly rate €500-1,300.
Editor: Dario Cavegn