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Switzerland: Heavy Vehicle Tax

(May 2, 2008) On March 26, 2008, Switzerland promulgated amendments to the Heavy Vehicle Tax Act that enhance enforcement of the user fees imposed on heavy passenger cars and trucks and to the Heavy Vehicle Tax Regulation (Bundesgesetz, Oct. 5, 2007, AMTLICHE SAMMLUNG DES BUNDESRECHTS (AS) 765 (2008) & Verordnung, Mar. 7, 2008, AS 769 (2008), respectively, Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation official Web site). The Heavy Vehicle Tax Act (SYSTEMATISCHE SAMMLUNG DES BUNDESRECHTS (SR) No. 641.81, Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation official Web site) was originally enacted in 1997 and is part of the Swiss transport policy that aims at shifting heavy traffic from roads to rail and that is mandated by article 84 of the Swiss Federal Constitution (Bundesverfassung, SR No. 101). The fees, imposed on vehicles that are permanently or temporarily in Switzerland, are in proportion to the amount of pollutants they emit; these fees were last increased by ten percent on January 1, 2008 (Verordnung, Sept. 12, 2007, AS 4695 (2007), Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation official Web site). This increase in the fee has decreased truck traffic in Switzerland and increased it in Austria. Both countries serve as transit routes for freight within Europe, and both countries have fragile ecologies in the alpine regions (L. Ungerbeck, Tunnelblick, DER STANDARD, Apr. 20, 2008, at 24, LEXIS/NEXIS, NEWS Library, ZEITNG File).