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Written by:
Nico Koppel


Foreign licence plates “earn” owner of vehicle additional tax assessment

Anyone who owns a motor vehicle is required to pay motor vehicle tax. The category of “motor vehicles” is made up of passenger vehicles, vans, motorcycles, lorries and coaches. The holder is the person in whose name the vehicle has been registered in the Netherlands or who has a motor vehicle with foreign licence plates at his or her disposal within the Netherlands. Motor vehicle tax is to be paid up in advance. An additional tax assessment may be imposed for unpaid or less than fully paid up motor vehicle tax, or where a Dutch-resident person is established as having been making use of the Dutch road network while driving a foreign-registered motor vehicle. The additional assessment is charged for a 12-month term unless the vehicle in question carries foreign plates, in which case the assessment is charged from the moment the holder’s name was first registered, or should have been registered, in the addresses data base in the Netherlands. Allowances are made in calculating the additional tax assessment for the period for which payment was made for the motor vehicle in question. The person on whom the additional assessment is imposed is given the option to prove that he or she did not have the disposal of the motor vehicle during the term to which the assessment relates.

On a practical level the above scheme results in non-Dutch nationals being presented with additional motor vehicle tax assessments for period in excess of 12 months. This prompted the District Court for Zeeland and Western Brabant to ask the Supreme Court to decide whether or not the scheme illegally entailed nationality discrimination.

According to the Supreme Court there is no question of illegal nationality discrimination as long as the term covered by the additional assessment does not precede the start of the fifth calendar year prior to the year during which the holder was established as having been driving the vehicle in question along the Dutch roads. The Supreme Court dismissed as irrelevant whether or not the holder of the motor vehicle in question was also the person in whose name the motor vehicle had been registered abroad. In terms of corroborating proof to the contrary, the Court was happy to settle for plausibility being conferred on the date with effect from which the foreign-plated motor vehicle had been available for use in the Netherlands.

Dutch version: Naheffing motorrijtuigenbelasting buitenlands kenteken

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