Friday, October 25, 2013

The Eternal German Topic of Another Tax

Around eight hundred years ago in Europe....some smart guys came up with toll operations.  Toll roads, toll paths, and toll bridges.  It was a nifty idea.

In the 1700s, a number of cultures and countries got into tolls, and it expanded.

In the past six months, Bavaria came up and suggested that Germany ought to finally assess tolls....for foreign folks passing through Germany.  For the campaign, Chancellor Merkel downplayed this, and noted that it wasn't Europe-friendly.'s time to forge the collation, and the topic came up with the CSU folks, and it's apparently something that the SPD would talk about (no promises beyond that).

Some folks think that all of the political parties (except the FDP folks)....would agree to some kind of toll in Germany for foreign vehicles passing through.  They just don't want to admit that.

The EU has some strong stances on tolls.....because it really gets folks upset when the topic is discussed and the amount is in public view for the fee involved. For public record, there are some EU rules to forbid tolls, unless it's a private bridge or a private road.  Course, some countries have tolls already in  place and it's just plain accepted that they continue on.

In Italy....most of the autobahns operate as a private deal, with tolls, until you get around the major cities where it's all free.  Some major autobahns in France work the same way.  Austria has a "card-system" where you as the foreigner stop in a gas a card for the window....and just keep driving.  The card is typically good for ten days and it's around eight Euro.....with a two-month card costing roughly twenty-four Euro.  Switzerland has the card for 33 Euro.....for the whole year.

Where does this go in Germany?  A debate will open and folks will talk over the income they expect, and how it would work, and finally.....if it was legal and fair in the EU.  My humble guess is that a card would be sold for around twelve Euro for a two-week period, or forty Euro for the whole year (thus encouraging you to buy the yearly card).

Here's the thing.....if you are Austrian, Swiss, north Italian, Dutch, Polish, French, or Danish....there's pretty good odds that you cross the border into Germany once a year.  For decades, you got a free deal and never had to pay for expensive road construction or renovation.  Now?  The Germans realize that in the midst of July.....there's a million foreign vehicles transiting the country as a minimum....and they want your loot (yeah, it's that simple).

The selling point for the other German political parties?  I suspect that the car tax for German consumers will be cut by forty percent (angering the Greens of course....they think it's a necessary evil).  With the car tax decreased, all Germans will embrace the foreign traveler fee, and life goes on.

The foreign reaction?  Well....they already pay something in Austria, Switzerland and they'd likely just pay the fee and accept it.  Court action will the EU level, and three years from'd be decided by some court if this met EU rules or not.  Meanwhile, the tax would be collected while they wait.

The public's fear?  Around fifteen years ago when MAUT came along....the mythical and magical sensor on trucks to ID the truck and force truckers to pay a trucker tax based on autobahn mileage.....folks got this idea that MAUT would be forced onto the public eventually.

MAUT was to be the long-term answer that environmentalists sought....forcing people to drive more.....and bring absolute government control to a unrestricted audience.  MAUT in the initial four years was a failure.  It's best not to even bring up how many extensions were granted before it was implemented and deemed operational.

Today, truckers all use the MAUT taxes by the hour.....and the costs are passed along to the consumer.  German consumers never grasped that part of the deal, but they pay entirely for MAUT.

So, when you hear the foreign road tax subject in German conversations....that's the whole deal.  Tax the foreigners....not Germans.  And yes, it would only apply to German if some foolish French guy wanted to travel via the backroads of'd be tax-free and lengthen his trip by another eight hours.

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