Poland may change retail tax rules to address EU reservations

By bne IntelliNews September 14, 2016

Poland could change its newly-intrduced retail tax to address European Commission reservations, the minister of finance said on September 14.

In particular, Poland may adjust the levy's progressive model to evade EU complaints that it constitutes illegal state aid to certain players. Similar objections from Brussels saw Hungary forced to dismantle its short-lived effort to tax larger retailers last year.

Poland imposed the tax from September 1, looking to raise budget revenue to fund spending plans. However, the country’s anti-monopoly office UOKiK has reportedly warned the government the commission is likely to object to the tax, as smaller retailers are exempt.

“UOKiK warned there was a fairly big likelihood that the commission would consider the tax illegal public aid and therefore it should be paid by all involved,” an unnamed source told Puls Biznesu. UOKiK has, meanwhile, sent an explanation to Brussels saying the tax is within the limits of “rightful fiscal autonomy of the state,” the newspaper adds.

Wary of the commission’s successful challenge in Hungary, however, the government has hinted it may “adjust” the tax. “I expect some discussion on the tax on retail operations. This measure is not liked or approved by the European Commission,” Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha said during a meeting at the American Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw, according to PAP. He did not elaborate on what the changes might be.

Polish retailers pay a tax equal to 0.8% on monthly turnover of PLN17mn-PLN170mn (€3.9mn-€38.9mn). Chains will face an additional charge of 1.4% on turnover exceeding PLN170mn. Monthly turnover below PLN17mn will be tax-free.

The government assumes income from the tax will bring in PLN1.6bn to state coffers in its first full year of operation in 2017. However, budget income estimates have been called into question recently.

Polish retail business lobby POHiD said in July it hoped Brussels would force Poland to scrap the tax with the help of Brussels-based umbrella group EuroCommerce, which took part in preparing the legal case against the Hungarian levy.

 

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