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IP/08/1020

Brussels, 26 June 2008

Direct taxation: The Commission requests Hungary to amend discriminatory tax provisions relating to the purchase of residential property

The European Commission has formally requested Hungary to amend its fiscal provisions concerning the duty levied on the purchase of property. Those provisions discriminate against taxpayers whose purchase is preceded or followed by the sale of their previous home in another member state. The provisions are incompatible with the free movement of persons and the freedom of establishment, as guaranteed by Articles 18, 39 and 43 of the EC Treaty and the corresponding articles of the EEA agreement. The request takes the form of a Reasoned Opinion (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in article 226 of the EC Treaty). If there is no satisfactory reaction to the Reasoned Opinion within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Under Hungarian law[1], a person buying a house in Hungary must pay a duty (in Hungarian visszterhes vagyonátruházási illeték) which is calculated as a percentage of the value of the property. Where the property is the taxpayer's home and the purchase is preceded of followed by the sale of his previous home in Hungary, the duty is levied only if the value of the property now acquired exceeds that of the one sold and only on the basis of the difference in values.

On the other hand, where the purchase of his home in Hungary is preceded or followed by the sale of the taxpayer's previous home in another Member State, the duty will be calculated as a percentage of the value of the property purchased irrespective of the value of his previous home.

As a result, people who move to Hungary and sell their homes in other member States will be treated less favourably compared to Hungarian residents buying a new dwelling to replace their current one situated in Hungary. The Commission considers that such persons can be in the same situation as Hungarian residents, by reason of the fact that they may have paid a duty comparable to the Hungarian one when buying a dwelling abroad.

Therefore, the Commission considers that the Hungarian rules at issue pose a restriction on the right of every citizen of the European Union to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (Article 18 of the EC Treaty), and, more specifically, infringe the right of free movement of workers (Article 39 of the EC Treaty) and the freedom of establishment (Article 43 of the EC Treaty).

The Commission's case reference number is 2007/4016.

For the press releases issued on infringement procedures in the taxation or customs area see:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/infringements/infringement_cases/index_en.htm

For the latest general information on infringement measures against Member States see:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm


[1] Article 21(5) of the Act no. XCIII of 1990 on Duties


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