Understanding Road Tax

One of the accusations often levelled at Irish cyclists is that they don’t pay any Road Tax. And there’s one reason for this…

There is NO SUCH THING  as Road Tax in Ireland!

What we do have is Motor Tax, which owners of vehicles are required to pay in order to drive on public roads. And the amount of Motor Tax you pay is based upon either:

  • The engine size of your vehicle
  • The CO2 emissions of your vehicle

And, of course, a bicycle doesn’t have an engine, and (barring the occasional fart) a cyclist doesn’t emit any CO2 – and therefore doesn’t qualify to pay any Motor Tax.

And it’s not only bikes that are exempt from paying Motor Tax. Ambulances, fire engines, mountain rescue vehicles, search and rescue vehicles, lifeboat vehicles, bin lorries, sweeping machines, state-owned and diplomatic vehicles, invalid vehicles, and road construction machinery are all exempt from Motor Tax – but nobody ever criticises their drivers for not paying.

It’s also worth noting that:

  • Motor Tax is a tax on cars and other motorised vehicles, not a tax on roads or a fee to use them. Motorists do not pay directly for the maintenance of roads – it is paid for out of general taxation.
  • The vast majority of cyclists also drive cars, and so they pay the same taxes and levies as everyone else.
  • Arguing that cyclists should pay for the construction of bike lanes is crazy when you consider that we don’t ask pedestrians to pay for pavements.
  • Cyclists actually save the government money from the Health budget, as they are considerably less likely to be obese, have diabetes, or other chronic health conditions.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Road Tax

  • 14 April, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Good points. Also worth pointing out that, given the extortionate and punitive taxes imposed on the Irish motorist in the form of vat, duty, vrt as well as the levels of tax for pre-2008 vehicles, we should have the best roads in the world. Which we don’t! And it’s worse their getting.

  • 12 June, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Deliberate fallacy put about by cyclists, the motor tax taken in by the councils is directly allocated to the LGA, the LGA pays towards local road infrastructure so therefore motor tax does contribute directly to road maintainence

    Write a 1000 lines “I will not mislead the public”


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