Sunday 18 April 2021

Reduce tax breaks on company cars, says Amsterdam transport chief

Building on both offices and homes in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district. Photo:

Tax breaks should be removed from company cars, according to Amsterdam’s transport chief.

Deputy mayor Pieter Litjens is lobbying the national government to make cars leased through employers less financially attractive, he has revealed.

The aim is to encourage more people to use public transport, walk or cycle.

Amsterdam holds almost 5% of the Dutch population and its growth is putting increasing pressure on infrastructure, said Litjens, at an event to promote the Zuidas business district.

Forcing the issue

He said the council is working on improving public transport, including bike sharing systems, but there needs to be a ‘carrot and stick’ approach.

‘It is also a little bit [about] forcing them to give back their leased cars,’ he said. ‘You try to provide an alternative but you see giving back the lease car means a real drop in income. There are lots of fiscal advantages to having a lease car and that is one thing we have to discuss with our national government.’

He gave as an example Zuidas – the Dutch answer to London’s Canary Wharf, which is trying to attract the European Medicines Agency after Brexit.

€1000 allowance?

Adding infrastructure is not the only solution: 40% of people working at Zuidas live in Amsterdam and 40% of those come on a daily basis by car, covering a distance of seven miles or less,’ he said. ‘We have to make them see that this is not the way.’

The council is also working with businesses, for example, removing company car parking spaces to make parking more expensive. Cash spent by employers on company cars could go to a €1000 general allowance for any form of transport.

‘Because of the success of Amsterdam, the number of inhabitants is rising,’ Litjens added. ‘We had a population density of 4,500 per sq km in 2008. Right now we have 5,000 people per sq km. We plan to add another 100,000 houses in the next 15 years. To keep the city accessible, we have to accomplish a shift in behaviour.’

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