Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

£2bn air travel tax grab: Northern Ireland holidaymakers most hit by hike in levies for flights

Aer Arran confirmed management and pilot representatives have begun discussions
Aer Arran confirmed management and pilot representatives have begun discussions

The taxman has taken a staggering £2bn from people who went on holidays last year – or £56 from each of us per trip.

The massive figure comes from a series of taxes imposed on travel and relaxation, with holidaymakers being hardest hit by a rise in air passenger duty (APD) that gives the UK the highest taxes on flights in the world.

Coupled with hikes in VAT and insurance taxes, new research from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has revealed the exorbitant cost of leaving the UK for a break.

Northern Ireland holidaymakers have been most affected by the price increases owing to the fact that limited direct flights mean APD often has to be paid twice.

Travellers from here often have to go via Dublin, London or another UK airport for many European and worldwide destinations, thus incurring an extra charge.

The sheer level of taxes imposed on going abroad has left a family of six heading to Spain with £187 to pay in levies in addition to flight and hotel costs.

A family of four travelling to Florida faced an average tax bill of £350, while a couple flying to Australia have to fork out £254.

TPA boss Matthew Sinclair said the figures – which represent a £500m increase from the last research in 2008 – will annoy hard-pressed workers whose salaries have failed to match inflation.

"People work hard all-year to make ends meet and look forward to a holiday as a blessed relief but sadly the taxman is waiting even when they try to take a well-earned break," said Mr Sinclair.

"Those flying from Northern Ireland will find this tax particularly unfair as they often have to pay twice in APD.

"The Government should cut air passenger duty and make flying more affordable."

The contentious APD on flights has almost doubled on long-haul trips since 2009 in an attempt to cut carbon emissions.

That means the levy on flights in a standard class seat of more than 6,000 miles is now £94 – up from £55 four years ago.

Similarly, on trips by plane up to 2,000 miles the tax has increased from £11 to £13.

APD – which accounts for more than half the taxman's windfall – deprived holidaymakers of £1,037,281,001 last year.

They also had to find a staggering £936,642,177 in tax on pre-holiday items such as sun cream, flip flops and swimming costumes.

A further £42,201,833 went on holiday insurance premium tax, taking the total levy to £2,016,125,011 imposed on the 36.1 million holidays taken abroad.

FACTFILE

RATES OF APD

  • Band A (0 - 2,000 miles) = £13 (economy); £26 (any other class of travel)
  • Band B (2,001 - 4,000) = £67 (economy); £134 (any other class)
  • Band C (4,001 - 6,000) = £83 (economy); £166 (any other class)
  • Band D (6,001 & above) = £94 (economy); £188 (any other class)

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