'Stealth tax' costing motorists

'Stealth tax' costing motorists

Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman has described the victim surcharge imposed by courts as a "stealth tax" on motorists.

He made the claim after one of his clients was ordered to pay a £100 surcharge, despite there being no apparent victim involved.

The victim surcharge came into force in April 2007, with all fines for criminal charges initially carrying an additional flat-rate charge of £15 to fund a better support service for victims of crime.

However, last October, this flat-rate was replaced with a surcharge of 10% of the value of a fine, up to a maximum of £120.

Mr Freeman referred to the 34,000 cases where police officers applied community resolutions to crimes last year, allowing the offender to apologise to the victim rather than be charged or cautioned.

The lawyer claimed motorists are being used to fund these victims since there is no contribution from the actual perpetrators.

"The victim surcharge was always a stealth tax, which has now been very quietly increased, in some cases by as much as eight times the standard rate," he said. "Yet again the hard-pressed motorist is being financially abused."

Copyright Press Association 2013