STOP IUC protests in Lisbon today
STOP IUC protests in Lisbon today

Hundreds of motorcyclists and cars take part in IUC protest through streets of Lisbon

Warn government “shameful, unfair IUC tax increases will influence outcome of next elections”

The IUC furore – centring on the government’s decision to penalise drivers of the country’s oldest vehicles – just keeps on growing.

Today, in Lisbon, “several hundred motorists and over 1,000 motorcyclists gathered in Lisbon to protest against the increase in the IUC (road fund) tax, a measure they say is “shameful and unfair“.

The bottom line message to PS Socialists was that decisions like this will influence the outcome of the next elections.

The protest involving vehicles began shortly after 3pm near Marquês Pombal and travelled via Avenida da Liberdade to Rossio, writes Lusa.

Motorists drove in a slow caravan to the sound of horns, displaying placards in their windows that read slogans such as “Immoral, Unfair and Criminal” and more political asides like “Medina, are you going to send our cars to Russia like you did with activists’ documents?” (This one harking back to an old scandal when the finance minister was mayor of Lisbon)

Similar protests, organised by STOP IUC, a non-partisan citizens’ movement, also took place in Leiria, Beja, Aveiro, Faro, Braga, Porto, Viseu, Bragança, Vila Real and Castelo Branco.

As Lusa explains demonstrators were showing the nation’s mood over the increase in the Single Road Tax (IUC) for pre-2007 vehicles – a measure planned in the State Budget for 2024 (OE 2024), and trailed in the press as a way of the State compensating itself for reductions next year in motorway toll charges

Said Stop IUC’s Fernando Sá: “Normally, those who have a car that’s 20 or 25 years old don’t have it because they want (an old car), but because they need to (as they cannot afford anything better). This is an absurd increase, which in some cases will be 400% or 600%. We’re going to do everything we can to ensure this measure isn’t approved.” 

“For Fernando Sá, the government has lied to the Portuguese by saying that there is a maximum increase of €25, bearing in mind that this increase is annual”, Lusa stresses.

What this means is that next year the increase will be only €25, but the year after it will be €50, “and the year after that €75, and so on.

“This is a financial measure”, considers Fernando Sá. “The government wants to raise more taxes, but if these cars are written off it’s a shame (…). To pollute is to change your car every five years, not to keep it for 20 or 25 years.

André Santos, one of many motorists taking part in the protests today, said the government must “think seriously about what it is doing”, since this decision will affect a large part of its electorate.

Another argued that this measure was launched “under the cloak of climate change”, but that it is nothing more than a strategy for the government to raise more taxes.

“The government doesn’t care about anyone at the moment. It’s suffocating us with taxes,” he said, an expression that has become something of a mantra in Portugal.

The morning saw more than a thousand motorcyclists take to the streets to protest against the IUC increase.

The online petition against this measure has become the largest national petition in Portuguese democratic history.

It began gathering signatures after the 2024 State Budget proposal to change IUC tax rules for category A vehicles registered before 2007 and motorbikes (category E), stipulating that they will no longer be taxed solely on the basis of engine capacity (as is currently the case), but that an environmental component will have to be taken into account. (As Fernando Sá explained, this environmental component is in fact essentially spurious).

The sense of outrage has been compounded by calculations by Deloitte, suggesting the measure will represent “an increase of around 400% on a 900 litre petrol car, compared to the amount paid in 2023”.

UTAO, the State’s Technical Budget Support Unit  has also said that the phased updating of the IUC for vehicles prior to 2007 “penalises owners of older vehicles ‘a posteriori’“.

“With the adoption of the ‘phased updating of the IUC’ measure, combined with the ‘scrapping incentive’ spending measure, the Ministry of Finance is expressing its intention to influence consumer behaviour in the acquisition of ‘more environmentally friendly’ vehicles” reads a preliminary analysis of the 2024 State Budget proposal released on October 25 by the entity.

Lusa’s report does not go into the arguments that ‘electric vehicles’ are not in fact as environmentally friendly as they are made out to be: the cost of producing them/ of insuring them/ of repairing them is much greater than the costs entailed in producing cars pre-2007. Even the likelihood of ‘modern more environmentally friendly vehicles’ lasting as long as some of the vehicles on Portugal’s roads is debatable. Car buff Rowan Atkinson wrote an eye-opening piece in the Guarian earlier this year which began: “Sadly, keeping your old petrol car may be better than buying an EV. There are sound environmental reasons not to jump just yet”. ND