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Brussels, 5 June 2008

Car taxation: Commission takes steps against Portugal for its car tax-suspension system favouring vehicles produced in Portugal

The European Commission has formally requested Portugal to change its law as regards the difference in car tax-suspension periods granted to "registered" and "recognised" vehicle traders. The Commission considers that the difference in treatment leads to discrimination of vehicles produced in Member States other than Portugal. 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 the relevant national legislation is not amended in order to comply with the respective reasoned opinions, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Under the Portuguese Vehicle Tax Code ("Código do Imposto sobre Veículos") a "registered trader" (a person normally involved in the production, admission or importation of vehicles to a certain extent) may hold a vehicle on a tax-suspended basis during a time-limit of 3 years while a "recognised trader" (a person normally involved in the buying and selling of vehicles but not fulfilling the conditions to qualify as a registered trader) is allowed a time-frame of 6 months.

It also follows from the legislation that vehicles manufactured in Portugal may only be supplied by "registered" traders, who may hold such vehicles on a tax-suspended basis for a maximum period of three years while vehicles produced outside Portugal, whether new or old, may be traded by both "registered" and "recognised" traders.

The disadvantageous 6 month time-limit for suspension of the tax would thus never apply to new cars manufactured in Portugal.

The Commission takes the view that this situation discriminates against products manufactured outside Portugal and therefore infringes Article 90 EC.

The Commission's case reference number is 2002/4285.

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

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

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