The Automobile Association (AA) has warned that government is adding ‘stealth tax’ to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.
The act was signed into law in August 2019, introducing the country to a new driving demerit system, among other traffic changes.
The AA said that the Act will see the introduction of a so-called Infringement Penalty Levy, which is provided for in the recently published draft regulations for the Aarto Act.
“With regards to the Infringement Penalty Levy, the regulations directly imply the imposition of a tax. In this case, it refers to a fee payable for every infringement notice issued to motorists,” the AA said.
“On our interpretation of the draft regulation, this means an additional R100 is added to each fine issued, regardless of the value of the fine or its associated demerit points.
“In other words, if a motorist receives a R200 or R2,000 fine, an additional R100 must be added for the Infringement Penalty Levy, which amounts to a tax for actually receiving the fine,” it said.
The AA said that assuming that 20 million infringement notices are issued annually, this would amount to a R2 billion windfall for the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), with a single line of legislation.
“A good analogy would be to consider SARS charging every taxpayer a fee for submitting their tax returns. It’s an unacceptable fee, and in the case of minor infringements, may nearly double the fine payable,” it said.
Apart from this fee, the Association says it is ‘unconscionable’ that private motorists must pay up to R240 simply to enquire as to the status of their demerit points, and noted with concern that the enquiry fees for companies run into thousands of rands.
“One would expect that an easy online system (unlike the current system used for licence renewals) be made available to all motorists for demerit point checks to be made. Sadly, no provision is made for online enquiries within Aarto’s draft regulations, meaning the system is complicated and cumbersome,” it said.
It added that upon further review of the draft regulations, it remains convinced that they are geared more towards revenue collection than actually dealing effectively with road deaths, or creating a safer driving environment in South Africa.
“A clear thread throughout the draft regulations is that of revenue collection – monies payable, fees, and penalties – with little or no regard for the actual values of infringements linked to demerit points,” the AA said.
The AA says it will deliver a formal submission on behalf of its members relating to the amendments to the relevant authorities ahead of the November 10 deadline.
“Over 50 years ago, the AA called for a demerit points system to be introduced and we continue to support this notion. Based on evidence from other countries this type of legislation can be effective in making roads safer. However, the recent Amendment Act and these new draft regulations do not convince us that Aarto, in its current form, is that intended legislation,” said the AA.