Saturday 24 February 2018

Thomas Molloy: Owning a car has become a luxury that I feel I can no longer justify

TWO weeks ago I reluctantly sold my car and swore that I will travel by bike or bus in future. The decision wasn't easy but a combination of declining disposable income and the prospect of a seemingly endless rise in the cost of car ownership forced my hand.

Almost everybody fortunate enough to still have a job in this economy will be familiar with falling disposable income thanks to the Government's relentless hikes in taxes such as the Universal Social Charge and VAT. The Exchequer figures published earlier this week tell the story clearly: the amount of income tax raised so far this year is 6.2pc higher than it was this time last year, while the amount of VAT was 9.2pc higher.

Falling income is only part of the story. The other part of the story is the Government's determination to continue squeezing car owners. Governments cannot resist taxing cars anymore than teenager drivers can resist the lure of speeding and handbreak turns.

Yesterday's Budget was no exception.

The decision to slap more taxes on older cars with two-litre engines increased the road tax on my old car to an extortionate €710 a year. High levels of excise duty for petrol and diesel and the high cost of insurance to help pay for the collapse of Quinn Insurance are added expenses.

These charges are all helping to push the monthly cost of running a typical family car well past the point that is sustainable.

The problem for many people is that the State does not provide alternatives.

Obviously selling the car is not possible for everybody but for those who choose to live without a car, there is undoubtedly a satisfaction in legally avoiding the excise duty on fuel, Vehicle Registration Tax, road tax, NCT charges and tolls that are part and parcel of driving these days.

Irish Independent Supplement

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