An Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has ruled that by using the value of a new car as a yardstick for determining the taxes on an imported second-hand vehicle, Finland is violating EU treaty regulations.

The judge said that the Finnish tax was discriminatory in that it removed competitive advantages enjoyed by suppliers of imported used vehicles over those selling used vehicles in Finland.

In a preliminary ruling which is not binding on the full court, but likely to be upheld by it, the advocate general said that Finnish procedures for calculating the depreciation in value of a new vehicle were faulty because vehicles did not lose their value on a "straight-line" monthly basis - the actual loss in value had to be taken into account, she said.

However they were calculated, taxes on imports must not be higher than those applying to used domestic vehicles of the same kind, said the judge.

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