The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act came into effect on 1 July 2013. The primary purpose of the Act is to replace the system whereby a vehicle was declared off the road retrospectively with a system under which the vehicle must be declared off the road in advance. The system of making retrospective declarations had become a means of evasion of motor tax estimated to have cost the taxpayer some €50m annually.
The Act provided for a three month transition period from 1 July to 30 September 2013 to allow vehicle owners to bring their motor tax status up to date, allowing for both a retrospective and prospective declaration where a vehicle that had been off the road was going to remain so following the end of the transition period.
There was extensive public notice of the Act’s coming into force and widespread awareness-raising of the new arrangements from before the start of the transition period. Advertisements giving notice of the proposed changes were run in national and local newspapers in the first week of July 2013 and again in the second week of September 2013. Local radio advertisements were run over the course of a week in July 2013 and both national and local radio advertisements were again run over the course of a week in mid-September 2013. The changes were also highlighted in a number of media articles over the course of that period. Relevant organisations, such as farming bodies, vintage vehicles associations etc., were also notified of the proposed changes.
The revised arrangements have been fully in force since October 2013. Given that vehicle owners who did not avail of the transition arrangements have had to pay arrears and the necessity generally of maintaining a consistent approach in the application of the legislation, exemptions are not provided for in individual cases. Allowing an owner to declare a vehicle off the road after the expiry of a disc or previously made declaration of non-use could potentially be a move back to the system of retrospective declarations, thereby undermining the overall objective of the legislative change.