State aid: Commission approves prolongation of amendments to the Dutch tonnage tax scheme

November 19, 2019
tonnage tax

The European Commission has authorised, under EU State aid rules, the prolongation of three amendments to the Dutch tonnage tax regime until 31 December 2028. Originally approved in 2009 and 2010, the three measures concern a reduced tonnage tax rate for large vessels exceeding 50 000 net tons, a reduced tonnage tax base for ship management companies and the application of the tonnage tax schemes to cable-laying vessels, pipeline laying vessels, research vessels and crane vessels.

The Commission assessed the prolongation under its Guidelines on State aid to maritime transport and the Ship management Communication and concluded that it is in line with EU State aid rules. With the prolongation of the three measures, the Netherlands want to contribute to a stronger Dutch and EU maritime cluster and encourage reflagging to Dutch and Member States’ registers from outside the EU.

In order to obtain the Commission’s approval for the prolongation, the Dutch authorities committed notably to change their tonnage tax law. The Dutch authorities confirmed in writing the Commitments that are to be implemented in the Dutch tonnage tax scheme by 1 January 2020.

These commitments are the following:

a. Introduction of an EU/EEA flag-link requirement for ship management companies.

b. A minimum entry requirement for taxpayers with respect to vessels newly acquired/managed by 1 January 2020, namely to own/manage at least one EU/EEA flagged vessel.

c. A 50% cap on the revenues of ancillary activities.

d. Fulfilment of at least one of the required conditions for ships held in time and voyage charter:

(1) in addition to time/voyage chartered vessels equipped and manned by other companies, the tonnage tax beneficiary has in its fleet also vessels for which it ensures crew and technical management and provided such vessels constitute at least 20% of the total tonnage taxed fleet;

(2) the share of the vessels that are both non-EEA and time/voyage chartered does not exceed 75% of the beneficiary's fleet under tonnage tax, or

(3) at least 25% of the beneficiary's entire fleet is EEA-flagged), 
in order to apply for the tonnage tax scheme.

These changes are crucial for companies applying the beneficial Dutch tonnage tax regime. We recommend that you analyze the impact of these amendments before they take effect in 2020 and identify relevant solutions and potential opportunities.

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