The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday asked Spain to adapt the regime by which its ports benefit from exemptions from corporate tax, so that from January 1, 2020 tax in the same way as the rest of companies, and gave him two months to take measures in this regard, according to EFE.
In Spain, ports are exempt from corporation tax in terms of their main sources of income, such as port taxes or income obtained from lease or concession contracts, and in the case of the Basque Country they are totally exempt from this tax, recalled the EC in a statement.
The Community Executive already warned Spain in April 2018 of its reservations on this tax regime and has now concluded "on a preliminary basis" that this regime gives ports a selective advantage that may violate European Union rules on state aid, informed the institution.
For this reason, "invites" the country to adapt its regulations to "ensure that the ports, from January 1, 2020, contribute to corporate tax in the same way as other companies" of the country and gave two months to act.
The Commission also adopted today a decision on the same line for Italy, which applies a total exemption of this tax to its ports, and gave it the same deadline to take action.
"In order to guarantee fair competition throughout the EU, ports that generate profits from their economic activities must pay taxes in the same way as other economic operators, neither more nor less," said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe. Vestager, in a statement.
The Commission considers that an exemption from corporation tax for ports that benefit from economic activities can give them a competitive advantage when they operate in the internal market and, therefore, involves state aid that may not be compatible with Community rules. .
In recent years, it has already demanded that the Netherlands, Belgium and France eliminate corporate tax exemptions for their ports.
If Spain and Italy do not take action, the Commission may decide to initiate an in-depth investigation to verify the compatibility of the existing aid and, if it concludes that the scheme is not compatible with the EU State aid rules, may require the Member State that ends it.
However, given that the tax regimes in both countries existed before the EU Treaty came into force, both measures are considered "existing aid" and, if it is proven that they violate the rules, they are not it will require the beneficiaries to reimburse the aid received.