Workers in Dublin first to face new €200 parking levy
WORKERS who get a free parking space will be hit with a new €200 levy in the new year.
Problems surrounding the plan, first announced in the Budget last October, are being ironed out as the Government seeks to drum up an extra €10m in revenue.
The levy will be introduced in Dublin first, and then phased-in for the urban areas of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Some 50,000 parking spaces will come under the new levy.
Workers -- including teachers, gardai, judges, civil servants and private sector employees -- with an entitlement to a parking space will have to pay the full €200.
Employers who fail to deduct the levy from workers' salary payments will be fined €3,000.
Where the ratio of the number of employees to the number of parking spaces is two to one or more, workers will pay a reduced levy of €100, the Irish Independent has learned.
Employers will have responsibility for working out these rates, based on who uses the spaces and when.
But the levy has been criticised because it taxes everyone the same amount regardless of whether they are on a lower, middle or upper income level.
For a worker on the minimum wage, the levy represents around a week's wages and it is argued that this will place an undue burden on them.
There will be exemptions for motorists with disabilities and employees of the emergency services.
The levy will be taken out of net salary after income tax, PRSI, the health levy and the income levy have been deducted.
The idea has been dogged by complications since it was first announced last October, but Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will be in a position to name the start date in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance said: "Planning for the introduction of a car parking levy for urban areas, which is intended to reduce congestion, is at an advanced stage and details of its introduction will be announced shortly."
He added the plan was to avoid imposing the levy "on a disproportionate basis on those who avail of car parking facilities in areas without excessive congestion problems".
Legislation to be published by Mr Lenihan will legally oblige employers to deduct the levy from employees and remit the Office of the Collector-General at the same time and manner as the PAYE system.
But Labour's Ciaran Lynch has described the levy as "grossly unfair".
"I would have genuine concerns that this scheme will end up being far too complicated and that given its complexity, it could cost more to administer than it will actually recoup," he said.
The Government cannot argue the purpose of the levy is to reduce traffic congestion when it is currently reducing the number of buses operating in Dublin, Mr Lynch added.