VRT fraud crackdown to focus on luxury car imports
HIGH-powered luxury cars being brought into the country from the North and Britain will be targeted in a new clampdown on Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) fraud.
It will focus on drivers who bring top-of-the-range cars in and falsely declare them as basic models in order to pay less VRT.
From next week, these imported cars will have to be first assessed by the National Car Test (NCT) service to find out if the documentation matches the cars.
A report will then be sent to the Revenue Commissioners, which will determine the due tax.
Until now the Revenue largely took the word of the owner. This meant drivers could declare a top-of-the-range car as as basic models and save a lot of money illegally.
The changes arise out of warnings by the Road Safety Authority, gardai and politicians about VRT fraud and the misrepresentation of car details.
A spokesperson for the Revenue confirmed that staff do not currently examine all vehicles for registration.
From September 1, all imported vehicles will have to be brought to an NCT centre for a registration assessment, at a cost of €37.36.
The cost can be deducted from the eventual VRT bill.
Car dealers will be exempt from the process as they operate a different system using a car's "birth certificate".
Under the new system, owners will also be given seven days to book an appointment with the NCT and 30 days to complete the re-registration, instead of the current 24-hour deadline.
The Revenue said the new system would minimise the levels of VRT evasion through misidentification or misrepresentation as this would not happen when the NCT carried out pre-registration checks.
It would also ensure full compliance with EU directives on minimum safety rules, emissions and other standards.
Revenue officials working in vehicle examinations are to be redeployed to other duties.
Under the new rules, vehicles over four years old imported into the country must have a valid NCT cert.
Automobile Association spokesman Conor Faughnan said it was important every second-hand car was properly checked.
But he also claimed that VRT was an unfair tax that created an artificial trade barrier in the EU.
He said the AA had also raised concerns before about the level of "clocking" in imported cars. This involves tampering with the mileage clock to give a false lower reading.