The effective date for the new carbon dioxide emissions tax was 1 September 2010, and SARS is seeing green, as in, the colour of money.

A quick glance at the websites of a few motor vehicle manufacturers reveals that the price of new vehicles refers to this new tax as an added cost. For example, the selling price of a new luxury German sedan in the region of about R300 000, 00 will now be increased by an addition of an approximate R6000 carbon tax to the price tag. The carbon emissions tax will differ from vehicle to vehicle depending on the level of carbon dioxide emissions. Motor vehicle manufacturers can hardly absorb yet another tax bill in the wake of the global economic meltdown and are simply passing the tax cost onto the consumer.

The draft regulations indicated that the tax will be on new passenger cars and will be based on their certified carbon dioxide emissions at R75 per g/km for each g/km over 120g/km. According to the actual amendment to the SARS tariff which stipulates the tax and which vehicles are taxable with effect from 01 September 2010, there is now provision for the tax to apply to ¡§double cab¡¨ vehicles as well. The rate of emissions tax on ¡§double cab¡¨ vehicles is higher at R100 per g/km for each g/km over 175 g/km.

According to the amendments to the SARS tariff which provides for the carbon emissions tax, the vehicles that are taxable for their carbon emissions are:

  • Motor cars and other motor vehicles for the transport of persons of heading 87.03, including station wagons and racing cars; and
  • "Double-cab" vehicles with a mass not exceeding 2000 kg or a GVM not exceeding 2000 kg or a GVM not exceeding 3500 kg or of a mass not exceeding 1600 kg or a GVM not exceeding 3500 kg per chassis fitted with a cab.

The "double cab" has now been defined to mean a motor vehicle which has:

  • A separate enclosed area designed for passengers in the front and in the rear behind the driver; and
  • A separate open or enclosed area for goods.

The tax does not apply to:

  • Vehicles for the transport of 10 persons or more including the driver of heading 87.02, e.g. taxis
  • Ambulances and hearses of heading 87.03
  • All other vehicles for the transport of goods of heading 87.04

This new tax has been fuelled by the increased emphasis on environmental awareness because government hopes thereby to influence the types of cars on our roads in an effort to ultimately control greenhouse gas emissions.

It is debatable whether or not it is ethical for the taxman to try to shift our moral compasses by simply slapping us with additional taxes.

The tax will be payable once only, when new cars are purchased. Buyers of second-hand vehicles will not be faced with this new tax. The question remains: will more South Africans therefore be inclined to opt for second-hand models and will we see older cars on our roads? Will more of us opt to make hearses, ambulances and taxis our daily mode of transport simply because they are cheaper to acquire? Will double cab fanatics bear the brunt of increases in the price of new double cabs? More importantly, will our motor industry overcome this new hurdle in its efforts to shrug off the aftershock of the global economic recession? Only time will tell.