Dutch Lower House wants level playing field for offshore fleet
The Dutch House of Representatives asked the government to include offshore working vessels under the Dutch tonnage regime on Tuesday, 7 February 2023. The House majority supported a motion to this effect by MP Chris Stoffer (SGP).
In the Netherlands, seagoing vessels that exclusively transport goods are covered by the tonnage tax regime. Shipping companies pay tax for these vessels on tonnage and not on profit. This makes it clear to shipowners in advance how much tax they pay per year.
“This scheme dates back to the days when transporting and installing wind turbines at sea still required three or four ships,” says Lodewijk Wisse, fiscal affairs policy officer at the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR). “Only the ship that was responsible for transporting the wind turbines was then covered by the tonnage tax regime. Profits tax was paid on the rest.”
However, the market situation has changed, argues Wisse. “Nowadays, only one MPP ship or installation vessel is needed. That is responsible both for transport and for installing the wind turbines.” In the Netherlands, this means that these offshore vessels do not fall under the tonnage regulation; after all, they do more than just transport. Other countries have adjusted their regulations accordingly, but the Netherlands has not yet.
This creates an uneven playing field, Stoffer said in his motion, which received support from BIJ1, Member Gündoğan, D66, Member Omtzigt, Christian Union, VVD, SGP, CDA, BBB, JA21, PVV, FVD and Group Van Haga. The SP, PvdA, GroenLinks, PvdD, Denk, Volt and Lid Den Haan voted against. Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Mark Harbers announced earlier that he would leave this motion to the discretion of the House, as it is in line with policy. “This is also subject to discussion with the State Secretary of Finance.”
“Not putting Dutch shipowners at a disadvantage is important, because who gets to build a wind farm is determined through open tendering.” Wisse argues “For that, the level playing field is important.” Even without a level playing field, Dutch companies still manage to win offshore contracts. “That is not surprising, Dutch quality is very high. But we should avoid Dutch shipping companies losing tenders unnecessarily on the basis of price.”
According to Wisse, the Chamber motion is the first step in a bigger change that needs to take place. “With the construction of new, innovative ships, it is important that they can easily be added to the tonnage regime. Even if they do other things besides transport.”