A planned new law should severely curtail road user charge (RUC) evasion, conservatively estimated at $30 million a year, says a partner of accounting firm Grant Thornton.
Transport Minister Stephen Joyce announced a month ago that the cabinet had approved changes designed to simplify and modernise the charges.
In a statement today, Grant Thornton partner and national head of transport and logistics Trevor Thornton said the new law would be welcomed by many because it was modern, fairer and simpler and would make administering and complying with the system more cost effective and efficient.
"The alarming level of RUC evasion under the old regulations, and the fact that the trucking industry is a major contributor to roading costs, meant that the honest were subsidising the dishonest," Mr Thornton said.
RUC evasion, conservatively estimated by officials at $30 million a year, should be "severely curtailed" with the introduction of the new Road User Charges Bill and Regulations.
Some estimates put the total loss of the present system – evasion plus the deadweight cost of compliance, administration plus enforcement for officials – at $100 million.
About 580,000 vehicles paid RUCs, a tax paid by all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and all diesel vehicles for use on the road.
The new legislation would address the three major concerns that sparked a nationwide truck protest in July 2008, that of adequate notice for any RUC increases, simplification of the system and a review of the cost allocation model, Mr Thornton said.
RUC compliance would be improved with the introduction of more stringent regulations for odometer tampering, transport service operators being required to keep RUC records and the government having assessment powers similar to those available in relation to other forms of taxation.
The new law would bring greater simplification, with compliance costs being reduced and the administration processes for industry and government being simplified.
It was intended to have enabling legislation in the House this year and passed early next year with the new regime coming into effect in 2012.