Sweden to impose “risk tax” on banks and credit institutions

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On October 28, 2021, the Swedish government submitted its proposal for a new “risk tax” aimed at large banks and credit institutions.

The proposal, although heavily criticized by several organizations during the consultation procedures, was proposed for incorporation into Swedish law as of January 1, 2022.

The proposal is addressed to the largest banks and credit institutions, with the argument that the activities of these institutions constitute a major financial risk for Swedish society, in the event of a new global financial crisis.

Risk taxation – the short version

The risk tax will apply to the extent that a credit institution (at group level) has Swedish transaction liabilities of more than SEK 150 billion ($ 15 billion) at the start of 2022. The amount threshold will increase each year based on an index. All liabilities within a group should be included except the following:

  • Intra-group debt;
  • Provisions and untaxed reserves; and
  • Debt that is not attributable to Sweden (i.e. debt to a non-Swedish group company that is not attributable to the activity of a Swedish branch / Swedish operations).

The proposed tax rate is 0.05% (0.06% from 2023) imposed on gross debt related to Swedish operations. Thus, a group with a gross debt of SEK 150 billion would have a total tax debt of SEK 75 million for 2022, while a group with a gross debt of SEK 149 billion would have no tax debt.

State aid

With reference to the above, a common view expressed during the consultation procedures was that taxation in this form should be regarded as state aid distorting competition in the credit market within the EU.

State aid is not allowed within the EU without the formal approval of the European Commission. The opinion is based on the fact that taxation is not progressive, but rather targets large institutions leaving other players in the market tax-free. In addition, as noted above, it is proposed to levy tax on all gross debt and not just on gross debt exceeding the proposed threshold amount.

However, the Swedish government does not consider the risk tax to be state aid in the sense that several organizations have commented during the consultation procedures. It can be argued that the argument presented is vague. The content of the argument is that the taxation, in particular, of large institutions is valid on the basis of the risk they pose to Swedish society in the event of a financial crisis. Other credit institutions do not impose the same risk and are therefore not considered to be in a comparable situation.

Despite this, on September 3, 2021, the Swedish government asked the European Commission for confirmation of its views on the matter. According to the government, the proposal will not be implemented until confirmation by the Commission is received. In other cases, the deadline for receiving a Commission decision was longer than one year (eg C 596/19 P and C 562/19 P concerning targeted taxation in Hungary and Poland).

Remark

It is difficult to predict whether or not it is possible to receive a confirmation from the Commission and have the time to vote and implement the new legislation to come into force on January 1, 2022.

Although the legislation is proposed to enter into force in less than two months, a compliance by the Commission has been requested until September 2021 and, to our knowledge, it is unlikely that it will be seen in a near future. near future.

In any event, since it is clear that the government wants the proposal to be a reality from January 2022, it is imperative, not to say urgent, for banks and credit institutions to review their gross debt and consider the effects of the new risk. tax.

Amanda Jern

Senior Director, KPMG

Peter Nilsson

Director, KPMG

Gustave Hylén

Senior Partner, KPMG

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