The Port of Rotterdam Authority has announced that it will appeal against the decision by the European Commission to make Dutch seaports pay a corporation tax from January 1, 2017.
The Amsterdam Port Authority, Groningen Seaports, the Moederdijk Port Authority, the Port of Den Helder and Zeeland Seaports will all join the Port of Rotterdam in the appeal.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority said in a statement that, on the basis of its most recent annual figures, it would have to pay approximately €60m (US$67m) in corporation tax yearly.
In 2015, the Dutch legislature made an exception in the law for port authorities, stating that they did not have to pay corporation tax as they were competing only with foreign ports and with each other, and not private parties.
However, in January 2016, the European Commission overruled the “special position” of the seaports in Dutch legislation, leading to the ports’ decision to appeal against the corporation tax.
According to a statement by the Port of Rotterdam, in the legal proceedings, the port authorities will primarily “allege an infringement of the principles of proper administration, such as equality and proportionality”.
The Port Authority already pays a dividend to the Municipality of Rotterdam and to the State of approximately €90m (US$101m), which is indexed annually and is not dependent on the profits made.
Paul Smits, financial director of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said in a statement: “We are not against paying corporation tax, but then it should apply to all European sea ports. This is a matter of principle for us.”
Smits pointed out that the foreign ports with whom Dutch seaports have to compete do not pay corporation tax, adding that they are also supported in various ways by their own governments.
“Within Europe, it should be a question of ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. The payment of corporation tax will come at the expense of our investments in the port complex. The purpose of this cannot be to increase unfair competition,” he added.