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challenging excise duty on car import from e.u

Posted by emba - Created: 9 years ago
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7 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 7)

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Posted by tlauwers - 8 years ago

Hello Loukas,

I will keep you updated if/when I receive a reply from customs. I just sent my mail today, and given it's Easter, don't expect an answer too soon.

All of this is recent. This formal request that the European Commission sent to the Cypriot government is just a first step of the infringement procedure. The member state is given 2 months to implement the changes into national law and if the member state failes to do so, the Commission "might" bring this matter to the European Court of Justice.

Those 2 months are just a guideline, and if the member state shows some cooperation, it will of course get much longer time.
The member state will make a proposal for a new law and will check compliance with the Commission before actually voting on the law. Then the new law needs to follow standard national procedures on new laws. All of this takes a lot of time.

I've been trying to find out about the procedures to get a car purchased in the UK, get it shipped to Cyprus, and most importantly get it registered. If anyone could help me a bit with this, I'd love to hear from you. I discovered as well that car prices in the UK are much lower, even when you add shipping costs, but if you have to add excise duty as well your margin gets smaller. I don't qualify for the relief. I didn't have a car before, I just want to buy one now, and I've been living in Cyprus for longer than 12 months, so none of the conditions for the excise duty waiver apply to me.

Biggest problem is: if I buy the car in the UK, I won't have license plates, so I cannot drive the car as long as I have not registered it. Do you think that a car seller would allow me to use the car with his license plates, allowing me to drive it to the port and enter Cyprus with it, after which I FedEX the license plates back to him? With a clear contract between both parties, this should protect the seller enough, wouldn't it?

Any other ideas?

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Posted by Loukas - 8 years ago

To the OP, are there any further news on this subject? This is of interest to me as well!

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Posted by tlauwers - 8 years ago

Interesting article:

Commission requests Cyprus to modify discriminatory rules on car taxation (January 27th, 2011)


I sent an e-mail to Customs HQ in Nicosia to request more information on the actual status.

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Posted by emba - 9 years ago

thanks Sandra, good point

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Posted by sandra46-681487 - 9 years ago

hi i don't know where you are from, but if you have proof that you have been charged import duties, contact your MEP. i did this, but i had stood my ground, (as a retired person) and didn't pay any, but i was verbally asked to pay for "less bother". of course i have no proof. my MEP asked me to gather any info with proof from other people that it was still going on, but i can't take this on now, because of personal circumstances.

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Posted by emba - 9 years ago

Lime thanks but the law still exists, ok some people with alot of effort can get a reduction(but a reduction on fees that should not have been levied in the first place!), but it still exists, the cy gov website has the xls calculator that maps it all out for the public depending on cc of engine co2 emissions etc


I dug up this article also:

The Legislation of Cyprus for the Taxation of "Imported" Second-Hand Cars is Incompatible with Article 90 of the EC Treaty

Community law prohibits generally applicable taxes (on "imported" and national vehicles, whether new or second-hand), if these general taxes discriminate against "imported" vehicles.

The prohibition on discriminatory domestic taxes is expressly stated in Article 90 of the EC Treaty. Inter alia , this provides that if a Member State manufactures new cars, it may not impose, directly or indirectly, on cars of other Member States any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products (first paragraph of Article 90).

Levying non-graduated taxes on "imported" second-hand cars raises a particular difficulty in respect of Article 90 of the EC Treaty, especially where domestic second-hand cars are not taxed in that capacity because they were taxed earlier when new (i.e. when registered or when first put on the road).

The Court of Justice of the European Communities has agreed that this method of taxation is permissible but that (to ensure compliance with the first paragraph of Article 90 of the EC Treaty) it may not exceed a maximum amount equal to the residual tax incorporated in the value of similar domestic second-hand cars. This maximum applies even if the tax criterion applied by the Member State is not the value of the second-hand car but, for instance, its cylinder capacity. At the same time the Court of Justice of the European Communities specified that the residual tax incorporated in the value of a domestic second-hand car which had already been taxed at an earlier stage (usually when new) and which was similar to the imported second-hand car decreased in proportion to the actual depreciation of the car.

Article 90 of the EC Treaty imposes on Member States a clear and unconditional obligation regarding the outcome; they are deemed to be in breach of the obligation if the respective taxes on the imported product and a similar domestic product are calculated by different methods providing different results, even if only in a few cases, and the outcome is higher taxes on the imported product. Neither may the importing Member State plead practical difficulties as grounds for any discrimination whatsoever against imported products.

The compatibility of the legislation of Cyprus for the taxation of "imported" second-hand cars with Article 90 of the EC Treaty was considered for the first time by the Supreme Court of Cyprus in the Case 1161/2004 which was handled by the Law Firm Andreas Sofocleous & Co . The Supreme Court of Cyprus accepted the submissions of the applicant and declared that the legislation of Cyprus is incompatible with Article 90 of the EC Treaty.

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Posted by lime-676998 - 9 years ago

Firstly, there are no excise duties any more - they were 're-branded' and now form part of registration fees...

Easiest way to challenge a non-compatible domestic law - don't comply, let the State sue you for non-compliance and defend yourself by alleging that the law is non-compatible with the EU law (and thus should be disapplied). If it's too late for that (eg you already paid all the duties etc.) you can try to sue the governmental departments for illegal charging. 

BTW, there is plenty of EU law of illegal charges levied on use of cars (such as import/excise duties etc.). I would suggest reviewing the relevant case-law to see why it might not be such a good idea to lunch a legal challenge against the relevant Cyprus laws...