Saturday 17 March 2018

Motorists will pay less as VAT dropped from city bridge toll

The Thomas Clarke Bridge in Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
The Thomas Clarke Bridge in Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Sorcha O'Connor and Conor Feehan

Motorists can expect to pay lower tolls at the Thomas Clarke Bridge, formerly the East-Link, from next Friday as VAT is removed from the current price, reducing the fare for car drivers to €1.40.

The East-Link bridge was originally a private enterprise but, acquired by Dublin City Council in 2015, users can no longer be charged VAT in line with a European Court of Justice ruling.

The Revenue Commissioners has advised Dublin City Council that the toll link should not include VAT in its charges as a public body. The council said: "Dublin City Council received notification from the Revenue Commissioners on July 31, 2017, 'that the collection of tolls by Dublin City Council on the Thomas Clarke Bridge is outside the scope of VAT'."

They said August 18 was the earliest the new charges could begin: "Dublin City Council sought to remove VAT at the earliest possible time. This required consultation with our software contractor to ensure that they were available and had adequate time to make the necessary systems changes."

The removal of VAT from State-owned tolls comes as a result of a decision from the European Court of Justice.


While motorists will see savings at the Thomas Clarke Bridge, the decision does not affect the charges at other tolls such as the Dublin Port Tunnel or the M50 barrier-free toll.

The East-Link Bridge opened in 1984 under a 30-year public-private partnership.

The income had been split between the city council, which got 17pc, the Dublin Port Company, which got 25pc, and the operating company DIF picked up the remainder.

Now the council gets 100pc of the approximately €4m annual income generated by tolls.

Dublin Chamber praised the removal of VAT from toll charges at the bridge, but said more could be done for commuters travelling across Dublin city.

Head of public affairs at Dublin Chamber Graeme McQueen said that while the reduced toll charges were a step in the right direction, there was also a need to improve public transport aside from the current Luas Cross City works.

"We've made decisions in the city that cars won't be able to drive through the city centre, they'll be required to go around the city centre, with College Green and the plans for the Quays all feeding into that," he said. "We're getting all these changes in the city centre without any real advances in the public transport network, outside of the Luas. We need to look at how to give drivers something back."

Why charges will not be lowered at other toll booths

The removal of VAT at the Thomas Clarke toll bridge has raised questions as to why no changes will be made to charges at other toll links around the country.

However, director of Corporate Services of Transport Infrastructure Ireland Ger Hannon explained to the Irish Independent that motorists were never charged VAT at the M50 or the Port Tunnel to begin with, which are both under TII control.

He explained their prices had been set in the knowledge not to charge VAT to road users.

In the case of toll bridges outside of Dublin, which are all run under a Public Private Partnership system, he explained that these toll links are required to charge VAT on top of the fare as private companies.

As the Thomas Clarke bridge is now run by a public body, Dublin City Council, VAT will no longer be included in charges.

Irish Independent

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