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PR(03)30: The EFTA Surveillance Authority accepts a tax refund scheme for offshore vessels and shuttle tankers registered in the Norwegian shipping register


The Norwegian authorities have introduced a special tax refund scheme whereby offshore vessels and shuttle tankers registered in the ordinary Norwegian shipping register (NOR) are reimbursed for collected seafarers’ income tax and social security contributions levied on seafarers and on employers.

The aid scheme allows a reimbursement of the contributions in relation to seafarers who are liable for taxation in Norway. Refunds are not to be granted to ships qualified for other public subsidies. The ships eligible under the special refund scheme have to be engaged in all year traffic on a scheduled regular basis and will not benefit from any regional aid schemes. The ships must carry out maritime transport and be engaged in petroleum activities.  

The scheme came into effect as from 1 July 2003. For the above-mentioned vessels the new refund scheme partly replaces the existing refund mechanism that the Authority authorised in a decision of 1 July 1998. The existing refund scheme continues for all other vessels. The amount allocated for the operation of the special refund scheme in 2003 is 150 million NOK. The refund scheme is not limited in time and is subject to the annual budget appropriation decided by the Norwegian Parliament.

The scheme was notified to the Authority and it was assessed under the state aid provisions of the EEA Agreement. The Authority concluded that companies benefiting from the scheme receive state aid, but that the aid is compatible with the Agreement as it is in compliance with the principles outlined in the Authority’s Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport.

For further information, please contact Mr. Amund Utne, Director, tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50, or Ms. Annette Kliemann, Officer, tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 80.

29 October 2003

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