TRUCKING companies were among the few winners after the Budget with a new tax break on fuel from the beginning of July next year.
The 'rebate' on diesel costs for hauliers introduced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan will mean refunds on part of the excise duty on fuel paid by tax-compliant haulage companies.
Industry bodies including the Road Hauliers Association (IRHA) have been campaigning for a rebate that would allow them to recover 15c per litre of fuel used.
Precise details on the new tax break have yet to be announced, but the Department of Finance said the relief will cost an estimated €35m when it is introduced in the second half of next year. It will cost €70m for the full year in 2014.
"This will not cost anything to taxpayers, because trucking companies are currently filling their tanks abroad, where rebates are already in place," IRHA president Eoin Gavin said.
Fuel rebates are already in place across a number of European countries, and Irish companies that buy fuel abroad are able to avail of those tax breaks.
He said the changes will also make it less tempting to use illegal 'laundered' diesel.
An estimated €150m a year is lost to the economy because of laundered diesel, with the same lost to fuel bought abroad.
The rebate is aimed at supporting businesses which rely on economical transport for their goods, Mr Noonan said.
"The minister is now acknowledging that haulage firms are essential to the economy," Mr Gavin said.
However, it comes too late for 1,500 mainly family-owned companies that have closed over the past 18 months with the loss of 5,000 jobs, he added.