POSTPONED: Mobility in transition: the case of motor vehicle taxes and shared and integrated mobility

Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) research seminar with speaker Fanny Vanrykel, ULiège and USaint Louis, Belgium.

According to Docherty, Marsden and Anable, « The urgent importance of thinking through how a ‘Smart Mobility’ future will be taxed cannot be underestimated ». This paper can be regarded a beginning of to this complex, yet central, question. The way people are moving is experiencing major changes, thanks to technological advances. The rise of Intelligent Transport System (ITS), evolutions in demand management, the vision of integrated mobility and new cultures of sharing are creating cracks in the dominant mobility regime, characterised by individual car ownership and use. These recent (emerging) changes in the mobility system, induced by technologies, may challenge tax law, as the latter was conceived at a time when the context it applies to was different. Conversely, tax law has been shaping how such technologies have been developed<; In this paper, I select three technologies that create sizable changes to the existing mobility system: carsharing, ridesharing and mobility as a service (MaaS). 

Section 1 presents the main features of these technologies and how they cause changes to the existing mobility system. Then, I turn to the question of how does tax law shapes the environment in which these technologies operate. More precisely, I address the issue of how does tax law, and in particular motor vehicle taxes (i.e. registration tax and road tax), frame rights and obligations in relation to the current dominant mode of transport: cars. I argue that although these technologies do not cause disruptive challenges to the way motor vehicle taxes are operated and administered, they challenge more profoundly the different conceptions tax law attributes to cars. This dichotomy can be explained, on the one hand, by the need of technologies to adapt to the legal framework it develops, in order for them to avoid to remain confined to niche markets, and, on the other hand, by values lying behind such technologies to induce changes to the mobility system. As a conclusion, I discuss how these developments may lead to the need of redefining the role of motor vehicle taxes in society and how such changes may occur in favour of new or existing taxes, such as value added tax (VAT), which have not historically played a major role in framing cars as a technology. I also provide some argument regarding why, in the context of such changes, the introduction of a kilometre tax may not represent the panacea.

Bio: Fanny Vanrykel is a PhD student (F.N.R.S. research fellow) at ULiège and USaint Louis in Belgium. Her research concerns tax law, in relation to transition in mobility. She analyses how cars are shaped by tax law, and which role they are being given in the mobility system. She is also interested in the implications of new mobility patterns and technologies on tax law.

Institute for Transport Studies Research Seminar Series: Our seminar series is for anyone interested in the latest transport research. Presented by members of the Institute and guest speakers, the programme is designed to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversations across a range of transport and mobility research areas. The short seminars will be followed by a discussion. The remainder of the session will be a chance to meet up and network. No booking required.