Posted Nov 19, 2022 10:21 AMUpdated Nov. 19, 2022, 10:22 a.m.
The waltz of billions continues. But this time, the runaway affects not expenses, but certain revenues related to soaring energy prices. On Thursday, when the Finance Bill for 2023 arrived in the Senate, the Budget Minister, Gabriel Attal, thus affirmed that the tax mechanism on the “superprofits” of energy companies planned by the government – a variation of the European measure – will bring in 11 billion euros next year instead of the 5 to 7 billion estimated in October.
The year 2022 will also be more prosperous. An increase in revenue will be made possible thanks to a budget amendment that the executive has just tabled. This amendment aims in particular to extend the tax period for electricity producers “to the entire first half of 2022”, instead of starting only in the second half of the year.
This extension was recommended by the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), specifies the government, which also underlines the fact that several neighboring countries have decided to use this possibility. Italy and Greece implemented a similar system before the adoption of the European regulation. Germany, on the other hand, provides for an anticipated capture of income in relation to the intervention of this regulation.
Another modification proposed via this amendment: the level of the income thresholds beyond which the levy applies would be lower. A way, there too, to respond to the Energy Regulatory Commission, which recently warned of a shortfall for the State of 6 to 7 billion, resulting from early breaches of contract on the part of many producers of ‘renewable energy.
A guarantee system
As a reminder, the mechanism for taxing energy companies is based on the guarantee system that the State has put in place for these players, via electricity purchase contracts at a fixed price for fifteen to twenty years. In return, the contracts provided that, in the event that market prices were above a certain level, the producers would then be required to pay money to the public authorities.
This is precisely what is at work. As prices go up, the sums they pay out increase. To the point that more and more players now prefer to break contracts in order to sell their electricity on the market at a high price. A phenomenon denounced by the CRE.
How much will the additional revenue allowed by these changes represent? “We are in the process of quantifying it precisely,” replies Bercy, whose amendment also includes a whole series of clarifications and adjustments to the scope and methods of calculating the tax in order to take certain specific situations into account ( and therefore exemptions).
Taxation of “super dividends”
The government’s amendment and the promise of greater resources will not prevent the Senate from debating the exceptional taxation of “super dividends” or “super profits” generated by large companies in any sector. The socialists and centrists have indeed tabled amendments to this effect, which could be examined on Monday or Tuesday.
“It is above all a question of encouraging companies not to distribute excessive dividends but on the contrary to invest, in particular in the ecological transition”, explains Jean-Marie Vanlerenberghe, Senator Modem, who took up the proposal of deputy Jean- Paul Mattei, voted for by the National Assembly but rejected by the government when appealing to 49-3.
“The government and the Republicans are in the bidding on the least tax, but it is a slogan unsuited to the period we are going through, which on the contrary demands greater redistribution from the companies which generate enormous profits. “Judges Rémi Féraud, PS senator from Paris.
The chances of seeing these amendments adopted are very slim, but the idea is to maintain some pressure on the government, which has also decided to wait before moving forward on the complex issue of value sharing.