After the veto from Brussels on a VAT waiver on the gas levy, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) now wants to look for another way to return the tax to the citizens. “We will now discuss this path very quickly with the EU Commission,” said Scholz on Tuesday in Berlin.

“It is the attitude of the Federal Government that we do not want to make additional income for the state from the additional VAT revenue, which remains with the state,” said the Chancellor. They want a legally secure solution that can be implemented before the levy is charged. So far, it is planned to collect them from October 1st.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) had previously failed with his initiative in Brussels to exempt the gas levy from VAT. The EU Commission refused the necessary approval. “There is no possibility of an exception to this type of tax,” a Commission spokesman said on Tuesday in Brussels. The EU Commission apparently has problems with the fact that different VAT rates would have applied to the same product – namely gas – if the surcharge had remained tax-free.

At the same time, the spokesman indicated that he was willing to talk about further possible relief: The Brussels authorities want to find a solution together with Berlin so that the end customer is relieved in the same way as if he were to waive the tax. The collection of the surcharge in Germany should not have “unintended tax consequences”. It was initially unclear which solutions could actually be involved.

Previously, in a letter to the responsible EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Lindner had asked him to make use of his right of initiative and to give the EU member states the option of temporarily waiving VAT in government levies in the energy sector.

The amount of the levy was announced on Monday. From October 1, it will initially be 2.419 cents per kilowatt hour and should appear on gas bills from November. Around 0.46 cents of VAT would be added to the levy alone, which would increase the gas price by around 2.88 cents. The surcharge for all gas customers – private households as well as companies – compensates for the losses of those gas importers who have to replace the missing gas from Russia with gas at expensive world market prices in order to be able to meet their delivery obligations.

According to information on the comparison portal Verivox, the gas price is currently around 18 cents per kilowatt hour before taxes. 19 percent VAT is due on the gas price and the levy together, plus the energy tax of 1.4 cents. Overall, that would currently result in a gas price of more than 25 cents. A year ago, the price for new customers was around 6.30 cents, but then it had almost doubled by the end of 2021.

The coalition had to reckon with the fact that its attempt to exempt the surcharge from the tax would fail in Brussels. The early introduction date of October 1 was considered more important than a possibly lengthy exceptional procedure in cooperation with the EU Commission. The coalition is now considering solutions to reduce VAT overall or to waive the energy tax – as recently with the tank discount.

The Federal Ministry of Finance said that no official letter from the EU Commission had been received so far. “Our goal is still to avoid additional burdens for the citizens.”

The state should not generate any additional revenue from the sales tax on the gas levy. According to the ministry, various options are conceivable.

The Union politician Sebastian Brehm pleaded for “repayable state aid” in favor of gas importers. “Then there would be no need for complicated relief packages for private and commercial consumers.”