There are differences of opinion in the traffic light coalition about an additional tax on the extra profits of oil companies from the Ukraine war. Leading FDP politicians warned on Tuesday of a so-called excess profit tax.
“The constant demands for new taxes from the SPD and the Greens are shocking and are on the same level as the Left Party,” said General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai of the German Press Agency. It is “not the time for redistribution debates”. Group leader Christian Dürr warned that companies with good profits could leave Germany because of this.
Politicians from the SPD and the Greens had brought such an additional levy into play because of the further increase in energy prices. It cannot be that the mineral oil companies “fill their pockets even fuller in the crisis,” SPD leader Lars Klingbeil told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
Green leader Ricarda Lang told the “Tagessspiegel”: “We have been observing a decoupling of the price of crude oil and gas station prices for months. A few are benefiting, while a large number of medium-sized companies are suffering from the high energy prices and are wondering how they are going to get through the next year. The excess profit tax would be a logical step.”
In fact, despite the tax cut that has been in effect since the beginning of the month, there is no sign of any significant relaxation in fuel prices. Although the prices for the E10 and diesel initially fell from May 31 to June 1, the tax rebate was not passed on in full.
Since then, petrol and diesel have become more expensive again. On Tuesday morning, the trend was again slightly upwards, as the ADAC announced on request.
“The energy tax cut is not reaching the consumer like it should. The prices are still very high,” said fuel market expert Christian Laberer. As a neutral body, the cartel office must determine that the discount is not being received, and politicians should act. “Because at the moment the taxpayer is promoting the profits of the mineral oil industry, which is apparently using the crisis situation to maximize profits at the expense of consumers,” said Laberer.
However, the cartel office is dampening expectations. “We are doing our utmost to clarify and bring transparency to the pricing of the mineral oil companies. However, neither the Federal Cartel Office nor any other authority in Germany can lower prices at the push of a button,” explained President Andreas Mundt. High prices and the generation of high profits are not forbidden.
The SPD and the Greens therefore want to skim off extreme profits from the crisis through an additional tax, thereby taking in more money and at the same time dampening prices. The FDP considers this to be too short-sighted. “What sounds good is in fact a very bad tool,” said parliamentary group leader Dürr of the “Bild” newspaper.
“An excess profit tax would be an invitation to innovative companies like Biontech, which are currently making good profits and are already paying a decent amount of taxes, to leave our country. Nobody can seriously want that,” he argued. “If we want growth, prosperity and thus increasing tax revenues, then we have to be attractive to modern companies and not drive them away.”
FDP boss and Finance Minister Christian Lindner also warned in a “Spiegel” interview in May that an excess profit tax “would also affect the manufacturers of vaccines, wind and solar power plants or semiconductors”. But they made profits because they eliminated shortages thanks to their skills. “I don’t want to take away any impetus from all of them to produce more,” he emphasized.
Internationally, however, there are already examples of an excess profit tax. The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, referred to Italy, among other things. According to a report by the Bundestag’s scientific service, the measure described there as an “extraordinary solidarity levy” applies exclusively to companies in the energy sector.