Raising taxes in any democratic country is tricky business, but there are certain groups on which it's easier to raise taxes than others. Smokers, for example, have a hard time making an argument against raising taxes on cigarettes. As far as the working class is concerned, raising taxes on the rich is a no-brainer. And in Germany, they may find it easiest to levy taxes against non-Germans.

The issue in question revolves around placing a toll on the Autobahn, but one that would only apply to foreign citizens driving in Germany. And make no mistake about it, there are a lot of them. Germany has 2,330 miles of border with nine different countries, the residents of which often use the Autobahn – one of the first and most extensive networks of highways in Europe – to get around.

Germany is subsequently left footing the bill for infrastructure used by foreign residents who don't pay the taxes to keep it up, which is why it's now working to implement a toll on the highways. The plan is part of a coalition agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the Social Democrats with which she's working to form a government. While the exact logistics of its implementation still have to be worked out, the toll would apply to non-Germans while German citizens would be exempt.

The plan is drawing sharp criticism from within Germany and from without. The transport minister of neighboring Austria, an estimated 1.8 million of which use Germany's Autobahns regularly, is threatening to take Germany to the European Court of Justice over the matter. Meanwhile German auto club ADAC says the measure wouldn't even be enough to cover the cost of maintaining the infrastructure, raising questions as to its point.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 89 Comments
      SquareFour
      • 1 Year Ago
      If the standard taxes German citizens pay (income, property, fuel...whatever it is that funds their roadways) isn't enough to cover the the maintenance of the system, and the German citizenry is opposed to higher taxation, then a use-fee is the only way to go. If you use it, you ought to pay for it. The more you use it, the more you pay for that use. So, in other words, a blanket toll would work.
        LoneWolf
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SquareFour
        Yeah, but it would never fly with the german people. Taking money from foreigners is all well and good, and so easy, because they can't protest...
      flammablewater
      • 1 Year Ago
      I sort of agree, since Germans already pay taxes to maintain their roads (my city is trying to do this on one highway for people living outside the city but work inside it and take this highway every day without paying any taxes). But the Autobahn is a tourist attraction to some degree and it's not like you just drive THROUGH Germany. You stop for gas, you buy some (a lot of) beer, stay in a hotel. You do pay into the system for the privilege of using their road, but I guess they don't think that's 'enough'.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Rob Lewis
      • 1 Year Ago
      The fourth option in your poll should have incorporated the word "affect" in place of "effect". Good write-up, though!
      Really
      • 1 Year Ago
      Germans already pay taxes to use the Autobahn so the Universal option is moot!
      brandon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yonomo200, you don't really expect any less out of the brilliant AB staff do you? I would have replied directly to you, but conveniently I can't get your reply "button" to work. Even after a couple of refreshes. After all, this is the same group that just said "As far as the working class is concerned, raising taxes on the rich is a no-brainer". I have no doubt Noah thinks that is just a grand plan.
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      As long as rental cars rented in GE are exempt as well as GE delivery. However, I think the EU will have something to say about this.
      SlyDog
      • 1 Year Ago
      A yearly Autobahn sticker would be a nice start. Other European countries already do this. Permanent drivers could affix the sticker to their windshield whereas visitors could keep the sticker with the cool autobahn logo non-attached, and use it again for each visit that year, or attach it to their car when they get back to their home country. German citizens/residents could get a nice discount. All truck drivers and citizens/residents would have to affix the sticker immediately to their windshield. Visitors would have to keep the sticker/serial number coded and their receipt. Recommended pricing would be 60 Euros for passenger cars and 120 Euros.
      ksrcm
      • 1 Year Ago
      As long as you don't place universal 130 km/h speed limit, tax away. Even if they charge you 15 Euro/ week, that's a chump change for the amount of fun that can be had. If Austrians don't like it, tough. I fear way more the insistent attacks to suggested maximum speed wanting to make it speed limit than paying a fair amount of money to feel treated like a human being. You know? When you get forced to drive 50 mph there is actually a reason (and a good one) for it? And as soon as the reason for speed limit is gone, you are told that you can be trusted as intelligent adult human being to drive at the pace you deem safe/comfortable? I'd pay for that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
      TDIMeister
      • 1 Year Ago
      As a visitor in the country, I *DO* pay to use the Autobahn infrastructure through the 1.50-something Euros per liter of fuel and 19% VAT on everything I buy. So stick it the tourist tax!!
        brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TDIMeister
        This is my point. But hey, if they want to screw people like you, be my guest. I'm sure you will find a way to avoid the country if you can, and not pay the gas and vat taxes. Idiot governments.
        GaryNPS
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TDIMeister
        As a visitor to Germany myself, I simply keep copies of all the receipts for purchases and when I leave the country I am reimbursed the 19% VAT. They treat tourists rather nicely in my opinion.
      Lachmund
      • 1 Year Ago
      this is an old story and won't happen! still, it's abt time a toll is introduced since everyone else around germany is doing it as well.
      Aron
      • 1 Year Ago
      The reason why Austria and the Netherlands aren't pleased is because they were talking about introducing a vignette(toll tag) for everyone to buy, and then the German government would compensate Germans by giving money back somehow. That's not allowed according to EU treaties. So acording to the Austrians it should be either everyone paying toll or nobody.
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