There is no such thing as a ‘Road Tax’ in Ireland. It does not exist.
There is something called ‘Motor Tax‘, and as the name suggests, this is an annual duty payable by owners of motor vehicles in Ireland for use on public roads.
Since July 2008 the Motor Tax rates for cars have been based on the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle while in operation – so in effect, the Motor Tax is an air pollution tax.
Who pays Motor Tax?
As the name suggests, only vehicles with a motor are required to pay Motor Tax.
Some vehicles pay a reduced rate of Motor Tax:
- School buses
- Agricultural tractor/excavator, dumper, forklift, hearse
Who doesn’t pay Motor Tax?
Bicycles are exempt from paying Motor Tax, as they are not a motor vehicle, and they don’t emit carbon dioxide.
A number of other types of vehicles are exempt from paying Motor Tax:
- State owned vehicles, for example Garda vehicles and CIE buses
- Diplomatic vehicles
- Vehicles for disabled drivers and passengers, and invalid carriages
- Vehicles used to transport lifeboats, for mountain rescue, and underwater search and rescue
- Vehicles used to transport road construction machinery
- Refuse carts and road sweeping machines
- Ambulances, road rollers, and fire engines
So who pays for the roads?
Motor Tax revenue does not pay for the construction or maintenance of roads. Road building and maintenance is paid for out of general taxation, so in actual fact all tax-payers pay for the roads. Even people who don’t own a car pay for the roads. So in effect they’re subsidising road users!
Why don’t cyclists pay tax?
Cyclists often pay a lot of tax – just not a specific tax for using a bicycle on the road. Cyclists pay general taxation (Income Tax, PRSI, USC, VAT, and so on), just like everyone else. And those cyclists that also drive a car pay Motor Tax for their car.
It’s inaccurate to suggest that cyclists don’t pay tax, just because bicycles aren’t subject to Motor Tax.
Why don’t cyclists have insurance?
There’s no legal requirement for cyclists to have insurance. It’s probably because bicycles aren’t capable of causing as much damage as motor vehicles – either to property or people.
Also, a lot of cyclists do have insurance. Some of them have insurance cover provided by being members a cycling club or body. Others take out individual insurance policies to guard against theft or damage, and some have insurance cover provided as part of their house insurance.
Don’t cyclists sponge off the rest of us?
Actually no. People who have active lifestyles, such as cyclists, are a lot less likely to be a drain on our health services. The cost savings from reduced use of health services (even when you factor in those involved in road accidents) for people who cycle vastly outweighs any expense spent on promoting or supporting cycling.
It’s actually motorists that are being subsidised by the rest of people. Revenue from Motor Tax and the taxes on fuel don’t come anywhere near the level required to cover the cost of maintaining and building our roads. Road maintenance is paid for out of general taxation, and therefore people who never drive are paying for those that do.