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Charleroi airport fights tax bombshell

Published on 06/01/2005

6 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Charleroi airport is battling against a new year tax whammy imposed by the Belgian authorities.

The country’s chief taxman demanded on 31 December that the airport cough up a sizeable EUR 1.6 million extra within a two month time period for 2001 revenues.

This will be followed an additional EUR 4.4 million blow to the regional airport for 2002 revenues.

The additional tax burden follows a European Commission ruling last February that budget airline Ryanair repay illegal state aid to the airport authorities.

Both Ryanair and the airport contested the Commission’s decision.

The airport administration has warned that if the additional taxes applied to 2003 and 2004 it would cause a “virtual bankruptcy.”

Charleroi has filed a complaint with the tax authorities but the payments will not be suspended in the meantime.

The tax dispute has also sparked a political battle within the tiers of the Belgian government.

Wallonian airport minister Andre Antoine has rebuked the tax authorities for making a mistake and acting “agressively.”

Antoine has appealed to Federal Finance Minister Didier Reynders to put a stop to the “tax madness” that threatens to ruin the region’s attempts at economic development.

Reynders is believed to be surprised at the position taken by his Wallonian colleague, pointing out that the law is the law.

Wallonian leader Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe is to meet with Antoine on Thursday to thrash out a regional response to the situation.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news