► Which companies would be targeted?
In the various countries that have announced a tax aimed at excess profits, not all companies are targeted, but only those that have benefited from the crisis, and in particular from the rise in energy prices. The International Energy Agency estimates that European companies in the sector will accumulate 200 billion euros in additional profits in 2022.
In Great Britain, as in Italy, it is companies in the energy sector that are subject to a surcharge, which Belgium is also considering. In Spain, in addition to the energy sector, ” large financial entities that are already beginning to profit from rising interest rates” should also be affected by an extraordinary tax on profits, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced in mid-July.
► How to calculate the surcharge?
In Great Britain, an additional tax of 25% has been added on the production of hydrocarbons in the North Sea, which was 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 being a producing country, the system is difficult to replicate elsewhere.
In Italy, the government has chosen to impose an additional tax of 25% on profits made, calculated on the difference in VAT paid between October 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022 compared to the same period a year earlier.
In Belgium, a project which could be presented in the fall envisages a tax of 25% on the increase in gross margin between 2021 and 2022 of all energy companies. However, the idea comes up against the fact that the Belgian State already receives a “distribution contribution” paid by the nuclear sector which, due to the increase in its profits, should increase from 115 million euros in 2021 to almost of 530 million in 2022.
► How much would a tax on excess profits bring in?
In Great Britain, the government estimates at 5 billion pounds (6 billion euros) the report of its additional tax. Spain expects 7 billion euros over two years.
In Italy, Mario Draghi’s government was counting on an additional revenue of 10 billion euros, but the first installment of 40% that companies had to pay before June 30 only brought in 1.23 billion 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 would wait for the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the system.
► And in France?
Emmanuel Macron was questioned during his speech on July 14 on a tax on “superprofits” major oil and transport groups due to the conflict in Ukraine and the inflation crisis. “Yes, there will be a contribution but it will not be in demagoguery”, he replied. The President of the Republic recalled thatEDF had already been heavily 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 at 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 has just announced nearly 20 billion euros in profits in the first half of 2022, focus the critics. The company did not pay corporation tax in 2021, due to a loss-making activity in France, a country where it only achieves low margins on the sale of fuel. Its profits are made abroad, particularly in producing countries where the group announces that it has paid 16 billion euros in taxes in 2021. In 2021, TotalEnergies nevertheless paid 1.9 billion euros in production taxes. and social contributions in France.
The government has also asked banks and insurance companies to make efforts to moderate prices and must start discussions with motorway companies at the start of the school year, some of which have announced discounts to motorists this summer.
In any event, it will be necessary to wait until the end of the year to verify which companies have really benefited from the crisis and which are those which have not kept their commitments… then exposing themselves to retaliatory measures.