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Dutch ports lose EU Corporation Tax appeal

The European Court of Justice has rejected the appeal by Rotterdam and other Dutch seaports against the decision that they must pay Corporation Tax ahead of a similar rule for other EU seaports

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The European Commission, through its competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, ruled in January 2016 that the Dutch seaports should be liable to Corporation Tax with effect from fiscal year 2017.


Arguing that unfair competition is being created when other seaports, such as those in Belgium and France to begin with, are not subject to the same tax rule from the same date, the Dutch seaports - Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Groningen Seaports, Moerdijk, Den Helder and (the then) Zeeland Seaports - lodged an appeal in 2016.


One year later than anticipated, the Court of Justice has rejected their appeal by Rotterdam, Commissioner Vestager has, meanwhile, ordered Belgium and France to impose Corporation Tax on their seaports from 2018.

Maasvlakte II with the Offshore Center Rotterdam plot in the foreground
Maasvlakte II with the Offshore Center Rotterdam plot in the foreground

Responding to the EU court’s verdict, Rotterdam port authority (HbR), which led the appeal, expressed disappointment that the court has ignored the Dutch ports’call to institute a co-ordinated approach, so that all EU seaports would be taxed from the same date. HbR reiterated that it does not oppose Corporation Tax itself, but that Dutch ports now face an artificial competitive disadvantage.


Unaware of the exact tax rate that it would finally face, HbR made a €60.3M provision in its 2017 financial results, or 25% of its 2017 profit before tax.


One unanswered question is when the Corporation Tax fall on the former Zeeland Seaports since, following last year’s merger with the Port of Ghent, the newly-named North Sea Port is a Belgo-Dutch port authority.

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