A veteran of SKAT, Alex Smith, from the Carbost area of Skye, has asked the Inland Revenue to determine if the toll-collectors are enjoying a tax-free benefit by not paying the tolls themselves when they cross the bridge. He said that he doubted the legality of the company collecting the tolls in the first place.
He said: "Evidence was given in court that the staff collecting the tolls were employed by Miller Engineering. That is effectively a redundant company. It is not trading and therefore it is not paying tax, so how can it be hiring staff?"
Staff who work for Skye Bridge Tolls Limited (which is the name of the company which is collecting the tolls according to the notice they display at the toll booths) enjoy the benefit of being allowed to use the bridge without paying the toll. The bridge does not belong to the company which collects the tolls, therefore it is not up to them to determine who they can and cannot charge to cross the bridge.
It will be interesting to see the Inland Revenues reply and how they calculate the value of the free crossings. Also, if they do decide it is a free benefit, will the toll collecting company pay money BACK to the taxpayer to cover the loss of revenue.
The contract which the owner of the concession has with the Secretary of State for Scotland runs until they make an undisclosed predetermined profit. Therefore allowing people such as their own staff to cross for free is reducing the income the bridge make and therefore lengthening the period the toll will remain on the bridge.
I bet Alex is going to be popular with the collectors on the bridge!!
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 2003.
Most recent revision, 06 June 2003