The vehicle registration tax collected in violation of EU law is also refundable to subsequent buyers.
In the underlying case, the Romanian tax authority imposed a registration tax on a Toyota passenger car placed on the Romanian market in violation of community law.
The leasing company obliged to pay the tax, passed it on to the lessee. Four years later, the car was purchased by a Romanian company and then, four years after that, by a Romanian private individual. The private individual initiated a request for the refund of the unlawfully collected registration tax, but the tax authority rejected the application, stating that the right to a refund of the tax only belongs to the person originally liable for the tax.
According to the European Court of Justice, it does not, in itself, violate community law if a Member State only refunds the unlawfully collected registration tax to the person originally liable for the tax, provided that subsequent purchasers in the sales chain, who ultimately bore the tax included in the price, can make reimbursement claims against the taxpayer. However, if enforcing the reimbursement claim proves impossible or extremely difficult, the buyer can eventually reclaim the improperly charged tax from the tax authority. However, the court emphasized that subsequent buyers are only entitled to the “amortised” portion of the tax.