Monday, December 8, 2014

The Maut That Never Was

For months now, there's been big talk of a new vehicle tax game in Germany.  All this leads back to comments at the close of the last election in 2013....where Germans generally indicated that they felt foreign vehicles passing through Germany.....were not paying their 'fair share' on roads.

The general idea has led to the concept of a Maut.....a fee that a foreign vehicle owner would pay as he crossed the border....getting a decal.....and having roughly two weeks of driving off the tax paid. This would all lead to lesser fees or taxes paid by the German car owners on their yearly registration cost....balancing out to be 'fair'.

If you note.....I've said the term 'fair' a lot in this article, and that's the selling point by political figures, and the buying point by individuals who vote.

Over the weekend....FOCUS (a German weekly news magazine) put out an excellent analysis over the current plan, which lays out one serious fault.  You the formation of all this  one really said anything about the Maut and the yearly tax fee on German owners all coming under one single umbrella.  It's now apparent that one single German entity would manage the foreign vehicle Maut, and a totally different government entity would manage German car owner taxes....after the first year of implementation.

Naturally, this begs the question.....would both implement increases in the tax without consultation or telling the other what they were doing?  The SPD now thinks that.  As a partner in the government's coalition.....they have the final say in this whole plan, and it's getting near a point where a vote would be taken.  FOCUS says they won't get to the passing point without some modification or change.

So, all this talk, and literally tens of thousands of man-hours spent by various government analysts to come up with a workable Maut program that was fair, and vast efforts to sell it to the media and the public....may simply be the Maut that never happens?  Yeah, that's the funny thing about this whole story.

What you can sense is that the government wanted to go along with the Maut idea to some point....get it implemented, and then continue a trend of pushing it higher and higher against both foreign cars coming into German and against the average German car owner.  The generally perceived strategy is you invent as many small and minor taxes/fees as possible.....edging each higher.....with the average German never realizing the big picture number in the end.  That's why Germans typically pay half of their entire paycheck toward "something" (pensions, health insurance, taxes, fees, etc).

My humble guess?  Unless something big occurs to change the road-tax and car registration fee business around to one single German agency.....I don't believe it'll happen.  But why not bring it under one single agency?  That's the logical solution and simple to sell to the public.

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