Motorists face being hit with higher tolls on M50 and Port Tunnel
Motorists face being hit with higher tolls on the M50 and Dublin Port Tunnel after the European Court of Justice ruled that VAT should be applied to the bills.
An opinion from the Advocate General says that VAT at 23pc must be applied to tolls on all publicly owned motorways.
While VAT is currently paid by motorists on these roads, sources said toll prices were "artificially low" and were likely to be increased in light of the ruling.
In 2008, the National Roads Authority - now Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) - took over the M50. It said it had received confirmation from the Revenue Commissioners that VAT was not applicable on any tolled roads it operated, which also includes the Dublin Port Tunnel. In May 2010, following a separate ruling in the European Court of Justice which found that VAT should be applied by public bodies, TII was directed to apply VAT on the M50 and Port Tunnel by Revenue.
The State did not increase the tolls to reflect the VAT, but instead decided to include it in the existing rates. The Revenue's decision was appealed by TII, and the appeal was sent to Europe for clarification.
Motorists currently pay between €2.10 and €3.10 to use the M50. The Port Tunnel costs between €3 and €10. Last year, TII remitted €17m in VAT. Sources said if the court upholds the opinion, higher tolls might be introduced on both roads. The State could increase the roads maintenance budget to avoid any impact on motorists.
TII said the opinion was "not helpful", and it awaited the full ruling.