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PR(02)13: The EFTA Surveillance Authority accepts a tax refund scheme for Norwegian registered ferries in international trade


The Norwegian authorities have introduced a special tax refund scheme whereby ferry operators engaged in foreign trade and registered in the ordinary Norwegian shipping register (NOR) are reimbursed for collected 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 companies do not make use of the tonnage tax scheme and are subject to ordinary company taxation.

The scheme came into effect as from 1 July 2002. The amount allocated for the operation of the special refund scheme in 2002 is 120 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 which assessed it 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 as outlined in the Authority’s Guidelines on State aid to maritime transport.

For further information, please contact Mr. Amund Utne (tel.: 286.18.50) or Mrs. Alexandra Antoniadis (tel.: 286.18.52).

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