How to tax “superprofits”?

► Which companies will be targeted?

In the different countries that have announced a tax aimed at excessive profits, not all companies are targeted, but only those that have benefited from the crisis, and especially from the rise in energy prices. The International Energy Agency estimates that European companies in the sector will generate 200 billion euros in additional revenue by 2022.

In Great Britain, as in Italy, it is the companies in the energy sector that are subject to a surcharge, which is also being considered in Belgium. In Spain, in addition to the energy sector, ” large financial entities that have already started to profit from rising interest rates” should also be affected by an extraordinary income tax, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced in mid-July.

► How to calculate the surcharge?

In Great Britain, an additional tax of 25% is added to the production of hydrocarbons in the North Sea, which is already subject to a tax of 40%: now, companies that exploit gas and oil in the North Sea pay 65% ​​of their profits to the British Crown. But Great Britain is a manufacturing country, the system is difficult to copy elsewhere.

In Italy, the government has chosen to impose an additional tax of 25% on revenues generated, calculated on the difference in VAT paid between October 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022 compared to the same period last year.

In Belgium, a project that can be presented in the fall envisages a tax of 25% on the increase in gross margin between 2021 and 2022 in all energy companies. However, the idea arises against the fact that the Belgian State has already received a “distributive contribution” paid to the nuclear sector which, due to the increase in its profits, should increase from 115 million euros in 2021 to almost 530 million in 2022.

► How much will be taxed on excess income?

In Great Britain, the government estimates 5 billion pounds (6 billion euros) in its tax increase. Spain expects 7 billion euros within two years.

In Italy, the government of Mario Draghi counted on additional income of 10 billion euros, but the first installment of 40% that must be paid by companies before June 30 brought only 1.23 billion of euros instead of the 4 billion expected. The giant Eni paid 550 million euros, Enel 100 million and Edison (subsidiary of EDF) 78 million euros. Many companies will wait for the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the system.

► And in France?

Emmanuel Macron was asked during his speech on July 14 on a tax on “super profit” major oil and transport groups due to the conflict in Ukraine and the inflation crisis. “Yes, there is a contribution but it is not of demagoguery”, he replied. The President of the Republic recalled that EDF was already involved in the tariff shield.

Faced with this threat, the CMA-CGM and TotalEnergies groups announced at the end of July additional discounts to their customers. The efforts of the carrier CMA-CGM are estimated between 270 and 300 million euros in lost revenue, while the rebate of 20 cents per liter from September 1 (then 10 cents from November 1 to December 31) could cost 500 million euros to TotalEnergies .

The latter, which recently announced almost 20 billion euros of revenue in the first half of 2022, is the focus of criticism. The company did not pay corporate tax in 2021, due to a loss-making activity in France, a country where it only gets low margins on fuel sales. Its profits are made abroad, mainly in producing countries where the group announced that it paid 16 billion euros in taxes in 2021. In 2021, TotalEnergies even paid 1.9 billion euros in production taxes and social contribution to France.

The government also asked banks and insurance companies to make efforts to moderate prices and should start discussions with motorway companies at the beginning of the school year, some of which announced discounts to motorists today summer.

In any case, it will be necessary to wait until the end of the year to verify which companies have benefited from the crisis and which have not fulfilled their commitments…

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