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Greece Referred To EU Court Over Casino Tax

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

22 July 2013

Greece has been referred to the European Court of Justice for its failure to comply with the European Commission's request that it amend its taxation of casino admissions.

The Commission says it first received complaints in 2009 regarding the provision of a selective advantage to certain casinos, causing Greece to lose revenues it could otherwise have collected. The dispute relates to the imposition of a EUR12 (USD15.72) admission tax per person on private casinos, and the separate application of a EUR4.80 tax on public casinos in Mont Parnès and Corfu and the private casinos of Thessaloniki.

The Commission ruled that this form of state aid was incompatible with European Union (EU) rules. It demanded that Greece recover all aid granted through this advantage since 1999 and end the scheme.

Greece abolished the measure last November. In the case of the Mont Parnès and Thessaloniki casinos, the recovery orders have been suspended by national courts, and no payment has been reported from the Corfu casino.

If a government does not make an appropriate recovery decision, the Commission can refer the matter to the Court of Justice. The Court can then impose penalty payments.

Greece is also in hot water with the Commission over its failure to recover incompatible aid, in the form of preferential electricity tariffs, from Aluminium of Greece SA. The Commission calculated the aid as the difference between Greece's Public Power Corp revenues from the standard tariff between January, 2007 and March, 2008, and the revenues from the tariff applied to Aluminium of Greece in the same period. The figure amounted to EUR17.4m. This recovery procedure has also been suspended by a national court.

Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, said: "Member States have numerous possibilities to support business in line with EU state aid rules. However, when subsidies procure distortive advantages to selected companies without furthering any common interest goal they must be recovered swiftly. This is necessary to restore a level playing field and to preserve the effectiveness of the rules themselves."

TAGS: court | compliance | tax | business | European Commission | tax compliance | tax incentives | interest | tariffs | tax rates | Greece | tax breaks | revenue statistics | tax reform | European Union (EU) | Europe

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