The European Commission has opened two in-depth probes to check if corporate tax exemptions granted under Belgian and French law to ports' economic activities are in line with EU state aid rules and whether they give companies in a certain sector an advantage over competitors in other Member States.
A corporate tax exemption for ports that earn profits from economic activities provides them with a selective advantage compared with their competitors in other Member States and therefore involves state aid within the meaning of the EU rules. 
In Belgium, a number of sea and inland waterway ports (notably the ports of Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent, Liège, Namur and Ostend, as well as ports along the canals in Hainaut Province and Flanders) are exempt from the general corporate income tax regime. These ports are subject to a different tax regime, with a different base and tax rates, resulting in an overall lower level of taxation for Belgian ports on their commercial activities as compared to other companies in Belgium. 
In France, most ports, notably the 11 "grands ports maritimes" (Bordeaux, Dunkerque, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes - Saint-Nazaire and Rouen as well as Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique and Réunion), the 'Port autonome de Paris', and ports operated by chambers of industry and commerce, are fully exempt from corporate income tax. This self-evidently results in an overall lower level of taxation for French ports on their commercial activities as compared to other companies in France.
In January 2016, following its investigation into the functioning and taxation of ports in EU Member States, the Commission asked Belgium and France to bring their corporate tax law into line with EU state aid rules by abolishing their tax exemption for ports. As Belgium and France have not agreed to align their tax laws as the Commission proposed, the Commission has now opened in-depth investigations to assess whether its initial concerns are confirmed or not. 
Press release

Informatiesoort: Nieuws

Rubriek: Europees belastingrecht

H&I: Previews


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