The Estonian president refuses to sign the car tax law

The Estonian president, Alar Karis, has refused to sign the car tax bill passed by parliament on 12 June, saying it is not in line with the constitution because its provisions violate the principle of equal treatment.

“According to the law, a motor vehicle belonging to a natural person that has been specially modified or adapted for the transport of disabled persons or for use by disabled persons is not subject to vehicle tax. Such a vehicle is also not subject to registration fees. Neither of these exemptions applies to a person whose mobility impairment is such that the person does not need the vehicle to be modified or adapted,” the head of state said in the decision rejecting the law.

“Thus, according to the law, a person with a severe or profound mobility impairment, whose only difference from those exempted from the tax is the fact that they can use an unmodified vehicle, would have to pay the tax and the registration fee. The principle of equal treatment requires that people in similar situations be treated equally,” Karis emphasised.

The Estonian Chamber of People with Disabilities also stated in its opinion that not all people with mobility impairments need to have their cars modified.

According to Karis, it is not understandable why the tax exemption is not based on the need to use the vehicle, but on whether the vehicle needs to be modified or adapted. He also disagrees with the government’s justification that although the exemption only applies to modified and adapted vehicles, the government is planning a more general increase in subsidies for people with disabilities.

Bring the law in line with the constitution

“Even if the subsidies were increased in general, this would not eliminate the violation of the principle of equal treatment. Even then, it would be arbitrary to exempt only some of those in a similar situation. A person with a severe mobility impairment who does not qualify for the exemption could hardly be persuaded that, although he or she is treated less favourably and there is no reasonable justification for this, it is permissible because his or her situation is mitigated by the general subsidy. Equal treatment is an independent value that the constitution protects for everyone, regardless of their economic situation,” Karis said.

Alar Karis at his office. Photo by the Estonian President Office.
Alar Karis at his office. Photo by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.

Since the head of state considers that the law on car tax sent to him for signature is unconstitutional, he considers it necessary for parliament to reconsider it and bring it into line with the constitution.

The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that, in the current economic downturn, it is opposed to any new tax, including a vehicle tax. The new tax will reduce the international competitiveness of Estonia’s businesses and will do nothing to help the country out of the recession; in fact, it will be counterproductive, according to the chamber.

According to the results of a February survey, commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, 76 per cent of respondents are against the introduction of a car tax in Estonia, while 19 per cent are in favour.

1 thought on “The Estonian president refuses to sign the car tax law”

  1. I am glad to hear of President Karis’s veto of this outrageous,arbitary unaffordable proposed legislation. Should any such arbitrary legislation pass, then I permanently cancel my plans to move to Estonia. I believe that there are many people who feel the same way. Such will have a negative harmful effect on many Estonian citizens to not return to live in the homeland.

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