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German states weigh congestion tax

The Local · 4 Oct 2012, 14:41

Published: 04 Oct 2012 14:41 GMT+02:00

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So-called ‘congestion taxes’ are already in place in cities like London and Stockholm and apply to all personal vehicles entering and exiting the city centre.

Ahead of a meeting of transport ministers in Cottbus, the Baden-Württemberg transport minister Winfried Hermann, of the Greens Party, argued the tax is badly needed in order to “maintain and modernize the entire transport infrastructure."

But the federal commissioner for tourism Ernst Hinsken, of the conservative Christian Social Union, warned against defrauding commuters and tourists.

Hinsken rejected the proposed tax, telling the Bild newspaper "the congestion charge is designed to fill the cash-strapped coffers of state and local authorities.”

He argued the tax would unfairly punish commuters who already face a “horrendous rise in petrol prices."

The retail association HDE also rejected the new congestion charge. Vice President Lovro Mandac said the tax would make the city centre a less attractive shopping destination for customers. "The downtown shopping area is the soul of every city and each year it’s being hit with more taxes and fees,” he said.

State ministers and transport officials are expected to debate the pros and cons of the proposed tax at a two-day meeting kicking off on Thursday in Cottbus.

Story continues below…

DAPD/The Local/sh

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:21 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
LOL. More taxes. At least this one is limited to those who actually do bring their car into the city unlike the TV tax which is levied against everyone regardless.

All in all a good idea. It might encourage people to car share to save on the cost. Most cities cannot cope with the sheer volume of traffic and in light of the amount of cars with one person in them coming into the city this might reduce traffic flow.

I have to laugh at Hinsken rejecting the proposed tax, telling the Bild newspaper "the congestion charge is designed to fill the cash-strapped coffers of state and local authorities.¦quot; Isn't that what every tax ends up doing? Don't tell me the 18EUR per month for the TV tax all goes to subsidise state TV. LOL
16:03 October 4, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
Don't laugh to hard ... next month someone will figure how many times a day someone takes a breath and submit a bill to tax air ... how about a toilet tax ...
16:06 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Actually there is an air tax in Sächsische Schweiz. I had to pay it when checking out of the hotel after a weekend stay. The cities can charge a pollution tax instead. Don't want to be giving us free polluted air now do they.
17:07 October 4, 2012 by Bulldawg82
Wow! Why don't they just come out and say that no one can drive into the city centre unless they have more than 3 people in the car. The rest can take the subway/metro/train? Coming up with silly ways to tax people just makes the government look silly (in the least) or tyrannical (at worst).
18:40 October 4, 2012 by Onlythetruth
This added charge should be mentioned on the sticker price of a new car. The state subsidizes the auto industry and then tries to take it back with new tax ideas. Of course many german cars in the future will be sold with pre-paid city driving taxes as an added feature like air bags or sunroofs. .
18:47 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Yes onlythetruth and also maybe with pre-paid GEMA (of which you are a profound supporter) for the airplay on the car radio. :-)

Why stop there. Build apartments and houses with prepaid TV tax too. Ahh to hell with it. Just have babies in the future with pre-pay tax chips inserted into between their eyes.
18:52 October 4, 2012 by Bulldawg82
Taxing this just shows a lack of imagination and that they have run out of ideas. When ideas aren't forthcoming, then they just throw money at it (or take money for it).
19:25 October 4, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
Phase 1: Offer incentives to buy/upgrade cars.

Phase 2: Charge extortionate rates for parking fees.

Phase 3: Charge to drive cars through the inner city.

Phase 4: Collect underpants.

Phase 5: Profit.
20:24 October 4, 2012 by catjones
I hate city dwellers leaving the city to work in the suburbs. Let's tax them!
21:03 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
How much is a taxi license? Might be cheaper to buy one and drive myself into town avoiding this tax every day.

@catjones. I agree with you. The tax should run both ways. Those that come into town must go out again and those that go out must come in again so it is basically the same thing really. Either get them going both ways or get them on one of the journeys.

@karl Berlin I get you on phases 1, 2, 3 and 5 but you lost me on phase 4. Have the government started taxing our underpants? If so maybe this goes with the clean air tax. LOL
22:44 October 4, 2012 by yourkeau
So, am I the only one here on theLocal who supports the idea? What actually else one can do to reduce the number of cars in the cities which were originally built for horses?

Those who live in suburbs can leave their cars at P+R and use public transportation.
22:58 October 4, 2012 by Bulldawg82
To tax people who are already over-taxed and hurting from the recession is rather cruel. I would think that a more practical approach would be to limit cars downtown to those who are car-pooling or those vehicles that need to be there (polizei, local business owners that need a car/small truck for their business, etc). Make everyone else take the public transport. This will, at least, address the problem directly.
23:26 October 4, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
@Berlin fuer alles: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/151040/the-underpants-business
00:00 October 5, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

That would be the logical and most appropriate way. However, it would result in lost tax revenue from Diesel and Benzine. Whenever did the government ever really give a rat's ass about what is best for it's citizens? This tax will make more revenue for the authorities, keep cars on the road for the German auto industry, keep diesel and benzine consumption up for the oil companies and tax revenue flowing from this source. Logical from their point of view but not from ours. That is the German way.
04:25 October 5, 2012 by Eric1
Greed, greed, greed.
09:02 October 5, 2012 by narfmaster
While I agree with most here that this tax is idiocy, something needs to be done. The problems are slightly different for every city, but the usual culprits for city congestion are the following:

1) More/better public transportation is needed

2) It is too expensive to live in the city, so people are commuting from outside it

The first one is usually acknowledged and it is hard to have the public transportation system grow as fast as the city does. However, I would say the second one is the bigger problem. If people can walk to work and to the store, they don't need to drive. Then there is less pollution, less money spent on petrol, less time wasted, and less noise. But in most cities, the jobs are in the center and no one can afford to live there. Why? Well, because there isn't enough housing. When your buildings can't be taller than your local church, you are going to have urban sprawl. If a city is forced to expand outward instead of upward, of course one needs really good transportation to go from one side of the city to the other. The solution involves tax incentives and low interest loans as well as a change in the rules to encourage people to build up instead of out. Then, the public transportation system doesn't need to be as vast and walking becomes a viable means of transportation. The cost of living will go down as their will be more housing available. It's all about supply vs. demand.
14:00 October 5, 2012 by catjones
Next it will be a circumcision tax. On the tips.
14:03 October 5, 2012 by whiteriver
@narfmaster: I couldn't agree more with you pointing the housing problem in Germany. I feel the same way, if it was allowed for buildings to be taller, people would have more space in their apartments paying less per square meter. I guess that the German gov. is afraid that once they allow it, the new buildings are constructed like the ones on the poor neighborhoods.

Anyway, this new tax would be unfair for the lower income (but better for the rich! - yes, no traffic jam!)
16:10 October 5, 2012 by elboertjie

There is one more reason for this: over-population.

One way of limiting it is to limit the number of people allowed to work in a specific area. There is also another way of limiting over-population, but it is too hard for us humans to swallow.
20:14 October 5, 2012 by Englishted
Simply the best way to avoid this tax is to work at the U.S embassy .

"In total, Transport for London says the embassy now owes a backlog of charges and fines worth £3,446,420."

"The disclosure will intensify the battle between Transport for London and foreign embassies who refuse to pay the charge and collectively owe around £28m."

That was in August 2009 so how high is it now?
08:28 October 6, 2012 by DocEllis
Thea idea and need is good, but the design as stated is very flawed. If they want to reduce congestion then create large parking towers on the edge of town and offer alternate ways of moving through town.

As part of our business we must go to different cities and sometime drive directly in the walking area, but only for a few hours. Frequently we must pay high parking rates in the process. This option can not be eliminated, because their a many like us.

If commuters are the problem then provide better ways for commuters. Don't penalize everyone who goes into the city, it will kill the businesses their. doc
08:39 October 6, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
You are right DocEllis. The way problems are tackled in Germany is to apply a tax somewhere. Cheaper for the government to do it that way. Spending some money on solving the problem or offering tax incentives so private enterprise will do something like build tower blocks outside the cities never seems to occur to the German government.

There are simply too many cars coming into the city and a proper solution is necessary so people can leave their cars outside the city. All this tax will do is leave the problem as it is and line the coffers of the authorities.
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