independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Customs seizes cars from UK-reg tax cheats

CUSTOMS officers are seizing almost 140 cars every month from motorists driving UK-registered cars to avoid paying tax.

A major clampdown has resulted in almost 3,000 cars with yellow number plates being seized over the past 22 months alone, according to new figures from the Revenue Commissioners.

And more high-profile roadside blitzes on VRT cheats are to be carried out, it has been revealed.

So far this year, 21 owners were forced to fork out over €61,000 in court fines after being convicted in court for driving English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern-registered cars while living in the Republic.

A total of €163,500 in court fines have been collected from more than 40 motorists since the beginning of last year, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Another €1.3m in on-the-spot fines has also been paid over to the Revenue from 'yellow-reg' drivers who opted to pay up to avoid having their vehicles confiscated, being prosecuted and named publicly in court.

Payment is accepted in lieu of forfeiture of the vehicle and legal proceedings.

Most seized vehicles are eventually returned to the owner once the fines are paid.

However, where the money is not paid, the cars can then be sold to an authorised dealer or, if they are in poor condition, sent for destruction by the state warehouse to authorised scrappage dealers.

Many of those who have been cheating Revenue by driving on yellow plates and not re-registering them and paying vehicle registration tax (VRT) are believed to be living in border counties in the Republic.

In one court recently, three women were each fined €2,500 for the offence.

All cars in the State, other than those brought in temporarily by visitors, must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners before they can be licensed for road tax.

Those who import such vehicles should have them re-registered within 24 hours of arrival in the country.

The VRT, a percentage of the expected open market price of the car, must then be paid within 30 days.

When the VRT payment has been paid, new Republic of Ireland number plates are issued and must be displayed within three days.

Motorists convicted in court of driving on yellow plates face a first-time fine of up to €5,000.

Powers

The Revenue Commissioners got extra powers to tackle VRT evasion in the Finance Act 2010.

A Revenue spokesperson said yesterday it would continue to ensure that VRT legislation was adhered to throughout the country and that the law was enforced nationwide.

"We maintain a focus on VRT offences throughout the year and at regular intervals, we undertake blitz-style operations, which are high-visibility," the spokesperson added.

New powers given to the Revenue in the 2010 Act oblige insurance companies to file information to the commissioners on motorists who insure a foreign-registered car for more than 42 days.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has estimated that the State is losing out on between €50m and €100m a year because of people failing to pay VRT.

Irish Independent

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