Finance Minister Lindner holds the Federal Ministry of Economics responsible for the fact that, according to the current status, VAT would be incurred on the gas levy that was decided. However, the head of the FDP wants to "exploit all legal and political options to avert an additional burden," he says.
Finance Minister Christian Lindner says he is examining all options for exempting the planned gas levy from VAT. "As federal finance minister, I don't want to tax the gas surcharge," said the FDP politician. It is absurd to burden gas customers even more as a state. However, the federal government is bound by EU law. "I will now exhaust all legal and political options to avert an additional burden," promised Lindner. New burdens are not necessary, but relief for the broad middle. From circles in the Ministry of Finance, it was said that the Ministry of Climate Protection and Economic Affairs designed the surcharge in such a way that, according to European law, VAT should actually be incurred.
The Federal Ministry of Economics has already made it clear that, in its view, no VAT should be charged on the levy. "It would be wrong to levy VAT on the levy," Habeck told the "Tagesspiegel". "The surcharge is a difficult step, but it is necessary to ensure the gas supply. But it should not be increased further by value added tax," emphasized the Vice Chancellor. "I am sure that the colleagues in the Ministry of Finance see it that way too." Legally, including under European law, this is complex. But he hopes that the Federal Ministry of Finance will find a way.
The deputy head of the Union faction, Jens Spahn, criticized the levy. It has "significant technical errors" and is not fair, he said. People on low incomes have been waiting for real relief for months. That doesn't go together. "It's almost cynical that the state still earns money from the special levy through VAT." Citizens pay up to 100 euros more than is necessary. The second planned levy, the storage levy, would mean additional burdens for consumers. If the traffic light does not improve quickly here, the Union faction in the Bundestag will apply for the repeal of the regulation on the gas surcharge, said the CDU politician.
Criticism of the surcharge also comes from industry. VDA President Hildegard Müller admitted: "The gas levy regulations that have been passed are a necessary evil in order to maintain Germany's energy supply". But: For a fair distribution of the burden, the federal government should have made the energy industry more responsible. Instead, companies and private consumers should be burdened beyond measure. The head of the Association of the Automotive Industry called for further relief for the industry, such as a reduction in electricity tax. In addition, there is a need for a hardship clause in order to rule out burdens that could endanger the existence of the company.
The energy associations BDEW and VKU called on the federal government to make improvements. In a letter to Habeck, they warned that the price adjustment could not be enforced against customers with contracts without the possibility of adjustment until October 1st. This affects an average of around 25 percent of household customers. In the case of fixed-price contracts, there is a risk of total failure if the allocation cannot be contractually passed on. "This creates significant liquidity problems for the energy suppliers, which can also lead to insolvency due to the already tense financial situation."
On Thursday evening, the cabinet had agreed on the gas levy, which will lead to price increases for gas customers from autumn. Habeck said that the federal government's decision for the temporary levy will and must be accompanied by further relief for the citizens.
With the surcharge, the federal government wants to prevent importers from collapsing as a result of severely curtailed Russian gas supplies. It should take effect from the beginning of October and benefit gas suppliers such as Uniper, who have to buy replacements for the missing, cheaper gas volumes from Russia at high prices. So far, however, you cannot pass on these additional costs; this is to be done via the levy. Uniper was in financial turmoil, the federal government had decided on a billion-euro rescue package.
The ordinance is expected to come into force in mid-August. It is unclear how high the levy is and when exactly it will reach consumers. The amount of the surcharge is to be determined for the first time by August 15, 2022. According to the draft ordinance, it depends largely on the volume and price of the gas to be procured as a replacement and on demand. Habeck had mentioned a range of 1.5 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour.