'People are taxed to death' - TD hits out at proposed 'distance charge' on roads

A report has recommended a slew of new taxes to replace declining fossil fuels revenues
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.03 15 Sep 2022

Share this article

'People are taxed to death' -...

'People are taxed to death' - TD hits out at proposed 'distance charge' on roads

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.03 15 Sep 2022

Share this article

One TD has said people can't afford any new taxes, as they are "taxed to death".

Independent TD for Kerry Michael Healy-Rae was speaking as a new report has recommended a slew of taxes to replace declining revenues from fossil fuels.

The Commission on Taxation and Welfare has said "road usage charges" should be introduced around distance, location and time spent on the road.


While in the short-term, it said it "supports the introduction of congestion charging".

It also described the Local Property Tax (LPT) as a "well-functioning tax", and said it should be "increased materially".

And it said a Site Value Tax (SVT) should be applied to all land that is not subject to the LPT - replacing the existing system of commercial rates.

"Given Ireland's demographic profile, level of public debt, and a number of other fiscal risks, it is inevitable that the total amount of taxation required to fund public services will increase in the years ahead", the report said.

Deputy Healy-Rae told Newstalk Breakfast any extra road charge will be passed to the consumer.

"We are an island nation, everything has to be delivered by road - things do not fall out of the sky to fill our shops.

"If an additional charge is put on those people, where will that charge eventually go but on the consumer.

"So what it means is a person picking up their box of Cornflakes inside the shop will pay a hell of a lot more for it than they're already paying."

'Everything went up'

And he believes this is a slippery slope.

"When penalty points were introduced, we were told 'This is what was being proposed'.

"And since then it has completely changed: in other words, two points went to three, one went to two - everything went up.

"The fines went up and everything went up - they would do exactly the same with the distance location charges.

"If they came in in one guise, they would be completely changed.

"And all it would mean is that the poor person on the road, that has to use the road a lot, will finish up paying a lot more".

He added: "At present, people are taxed to death - between carbon taxes and all of the additional charges and costs that are put on people.

"People right now today - running their car, paying the electricity in their house and trying to keep heat in their homes for this winter - is extremely difficult".

'It's got to be paid for'

John Fitzgerald is adjunct professor in economics at Trinity College Dublin.

He said the short-fall has to be made up somewhere.

"There are three elements: one there's the carbon we emit... a second is you've got to pay for the roads.

"A distance charge - if you drive a long distance on a road - cars don't do that much damage, lorries do much more damage.

"But the third element is congestion: the OECD originally suggested everything would be on the kilometres you [travel].

"But in Ireland, with a large rural population, that's probably not a great idea.

"People going from Belmullet to Castlebar to do their shopping, there's no congestion on the roads, they're not doing a huge amount of damage to the road - although it's got to be paid for - and if they're an electric car they're not emitting carbon.

"Whereas in Dublin or Cork, where you have major congestion, by you driving the car you're cluttering up the city for other people".

Main image: Michael Healy-Rae talking to the media outside the Dáil in 2016. Picture by:

Share this article

Read more about

Commission On Taxation Distance Charge Kerry LPT Local Property Tax Michael Healy-rae Newstalk Breakfast Road Taxes Site Value Tax

Most Popular