Spain to maintain tax on energy companies and banks, despite ECB warning

Spain to maintain tax on energy companies and banks, despite ECB warning |

The Spanish government will not modify the structure of the future taxes on large energy companies and banks despite the European Central Bank (ECB) warning this could distort EU competition.

Spain’s progressive government of PSOE and Unidas Podemos has decided to maintain the format initially approved for both levies, which are expected to collect €7 billion in two years, according to official sources.

The deadline for partial amendments to the bill – including the two new fiscal tools in addition to the tax on the wealthy and the limitation on consolidated groups to offset losses of their subsidiaries – formally closed on Thursday, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

Both coalition partners filed their respective text amendments on Thursday, yet according to government sources, none proposed major changes to the original draft, financial daily Cinco Días reported.

The banking tax, which aims to collect €3 billion in 2022 and 2023, applies a tax rate of 4.8% on the margin of interest and commissions charged by financial institutions that in 2019 would have earned more than €800 million, adding these two concepts together.

Several financial institutions, among them voices in the ECB, have recently expressed a negative opinion on the banking tax, warning of possible distortions of competition in the EU and criticising the fact that the new levy would “pass on” its cost to final customers.

However, sources in the Spanish Finance Ministry recalled this week that the ECB’s opinion is not binding and stressed that the Frankfurt-based European institution has only asked Madrid to redefine a few technical issues.

Nor does it seem that there will be substantial changes to the tax affecting large energy companies, though there is more room for a redesign than for the banking sector, sources told Cinco Días. This is due to the possible contradiction and overlap with the EU tax recently announced by the European Commission, they added.

It is expected that the Spanish capital allowance will be based on imposing a rate of 1.2% on the annual net turnover of companies in the energy sector with an annual turnover of more than €1 billion. The government aims to raise €4 billion over the next two years.

The recently announced EU tax set at 33% the so-called extraordinary profits – those that exceed by 20% the annual average registered by each company between 2019 and 2021- would only give rise to a collection, which, if limited to Spain, would be much lower.

The concepts that make up the tax bases of the Spanish and EU taxes differ from each other, something that could give rise to some litigation at the EU level, Cinco Días reported.

(Fernando Heller |


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