Dusseldorf. Car ferries now pay the full VAT rate. Only the transport of people is subject to the reduced tax rate. There is a threat of higher fares.
As a result of the Climate Protection Act 2030, car ferries have had to pay the full VAT rate since the beginning of the year. In contrast, the German Ferry Association and many of its members are currently in a storm. “The tax increase of twelve percent is not financially manageable for our company,” wrote Michaela Schäfer from the Schäfer Rhine ferry company in Meerbusch to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Member of the FDP. The higher tax could also lead to an increase in ferry tariffs.
The background to the tax increase is the lowering of the value added tax for the transport of people in long-distance and local rail transport. The ferries had previously only paid the reduced tax rate for all transports, especially for cars. According to Sarah Ryglewski (SPD), the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, the reduced tax rate on ferries now only applies to passenger transport, no longer to the transport of cars. “The pure transport of goods is not included in the tax rate reduction,” wrote the state secretary for finance in response to a request from the FDP member of the Bundestag Bernd Reuther from Wesel.
Car transport is the main business for the ferries. In 2019, the ships carried around 54 million cars on German rivers. “The increased taxation of the ferries is obviously in contradiction with the climate protection law,” said the FDP politician Reuther. “Higher prices reduce vehicle acceptance and lead to unnecessary detours. The federal government must prevent that. “
A quick change to the tax law is not in sight. Because the higher ferry taxation is in line with EU rules. They only provide lower tax rates for the transport of people. However, according to Finance State Secretary Ryglewski, the highest federal and state tax authorities want to deal again with the tax treatment of ferries.