Tax probe begins

Port of Genoa Port authorities in Italy are currently fully exempt from corporate income tax. (Pictured: Port of Genoa). Image: Wikimedia - public domain.
Industry Database

An in-depth investigation will assess whether tax exemptions for ports in an EU country are lawful and impact fair competition.

The European Commission's (EC) investigation will assess whether tax exemptions granted under Italian law to ports are in line with EU State aid rules. In Italy, port authorities are fully exempt from corporate income tax, however, Italy has not agreed to change its corporate tax legislation as the Commission proposed in January.

EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Ports are key infrastructure for economic growth and regional development. Our competition rules reflect that and allow Member States to invest in ports, creating jobs and preserving competition.

"At the same time, if port operators generate profits from economic activities these should be taxed in the same way of other companies under the normal national tax laws to avoid distortions of competition."

In January, the Commission invited Italy and Spain to adapt their legislation in order to ensure that ports, as from 1 January 2020, would pay corporate tax in the same way as other companies in Italy and Spain, respectively, in line with EU State aid rules.

Following the Commission decision in January 2019, Spain has agreed to amend its corporate income tax legislation to bring it in line with EU State aid rules. Spanish authorities have committed to subject Spanish ports, including those located in the Basque Country, to the normal corporate income tax rules as from 2020.

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