Dáil Éireann - Volume 682 - 13 May, 2009

Written Answers. - Motor Vehicle Registration.

Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the procedures in place by the Revenue Commissioners for seizing cars; the length of time the Revenue Commissioners can hold a vehicle after the individual has paid the VRT; the procedure used for working out the [586] fine; if an individual who has a vehicle seized can be left at the side of the road; if the VRT or the fine is payable first; and if an individual can decide if he or she has paid the fine to remove the vehicle from the country and avoid the VRT. [19216/09]

  Deputy Brian Lenihan: I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows. A motor vehicle is detained or seized by authorised Officers of the Revenue Commissioners where there is evidence that it is being retained permanently in the State, is liable to registration and payment of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), and its owner has failed to declare the vehicle and pay the VRT due within the period prescribed by law. A Notice of Detention or Seizure is normally issued by the Officer concerned.

In routine cases the seizing officer normally offers terms for local release of a seized vehicle. However, where aggravating circumstances, such as commerciality, fraud or obstruction exist the decision regarding release or otherwise is made by the VRT Prosecution Unit in Bridgend, County Donegal, to whom the officer will report the seizure. Unless the offender is offered an export option, the normal release terms are payment of the VRT due together with a fine or penalty which is calculated by reference to the Category of the vehicle, the amount of VRT evaded and the length of the time the vehicle has been in the State. However, where an individual is not in a position to immediately pay the fine and VRT amounts together, the vehicle can be released on payment of the fine alone on condition of their signing an undertaking to pay the VRT within seven days. A vehicle is normally released once the VRT and the penalty have been paid.

While there is no legal obligation to do so, where a vehicle has been seized, it is normal practice for the seizing officer to ensure that the owner can make arrangements to get to his/her home or place of work. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean driving the person to his home or to the nearest bus stop or train station if the person is unable to make alternative arrangements to be picked up. This is normal practice except where a vehicle has been seized in circumstances of a hostile or aggravated nature.

The decision of whether or not to offer release of the vehicle for removal from the State on payment of an appropriate fine is made by the Seizing Officer. The factors taken into account in arriving at a decision include:

the amount of VRT due;

whether circumstances such as fraud or obstruction exist;

the indications or otherwise of a commercial connotation;

the extent to which the vehicle has been used in the State that may indicate that it was intended to be retained permanently in the State.

If a decision has been made by the Revenue Commissioners to release a vehicle for retention in the State on payment of the VRT and a penalty, then it is not open to the owner of the vehicle to alter the terms of that decision except with the consent of the Revenue Commissioners.