Six publicly-owned Dutch seaports, Groningen Seaports, Havenbedrijf Amsterdam, Havenbedrijf Rotterdam, Havenschap Moerdijk, Port of Den Helder and Zeeland Seaports, are going to appeal against the decision of the European Commission which states that Dutch sea ports must pay corporation tax from January 1, 2017.
“We are not against paying corporation tax, but then it should apply to all European sea ports. This is a matter of principle for us. The foreign ports with which we have to compete do not pay corporation tax and, in addition, are even supported in various ways by their governments,” Paul Smits, Financial Director of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said.
“Within Europe, it should be a question of ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. The payment of corporation tax will come at the expense of our investments in the port complex. The purpose of this cannot be to increase unfair competition,” Smits added.
The European Commission has required the Netherlands to abolish an exemption from corporate tax for its six seaports so as to align the regime with EU state aid rules.
On 4 June 2015, the Netherlands adopted a law making public undertakings subject to corporate tax as of 1 January 2016. However, the law maintained a tax exemption for the six Dutch seaports, due to government support in covering losses or co-funding port infrastructure.
In January 2016, the European Commission decided to overrule the special position of the sea ports in Dutch legislation.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority would have to pay about EUR 60 million in corporation tax per year on the basis of the most recent annual figures. This comes on top of the dividend that the Port Authority pays to the Municipality of Rotterdam and to the state.