Brussels, 20 November 2012
State aid: the Commission approves a new Spanish scheme for the early depreciation of assets acquired via finance leases
The European Commission has ruled that the new Spanish system for the early depreciation of the cost of certain assets acquired through finance leasing does not constitute state aid under EU rules, inter alia because it is not selective.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said: “Following a long discussion, we have been able to approve a new finance lease scheme that is compatible with EU state aid rules on the basis of the latest proposals submitted by the Spanish authorities. This new, non-selective scheme will, as an example, make it possible to address the concerns of the Spanish shipbuilding sector without distorting competition in the EU Single Market”.
The scheme notified by the Spanish authorities makes it possible to deduct for tax purposes the cost of certain assets acquired through leasing as soon as their production begins, without having to wait for them to enter into commercial use. It therefore adds to the possibility already available to Spanish taxpayers of accelerating the deduction of such costs by reference to the payments made under a leasing contract.
The Commission’s investigation showed that the scheme does not constitute state aid under EU rules, since it does not favour some undertakings over others. The scheme applies to all types of tangible capital assets acquired through leasing, provided they are manufactured according to the purchaser’s technical specifications (goods which can be mass-produced are therefore excluded) and that it takes at least a year to produce them. Goods produce outside Spain are eligible in the same way as those produced in Spain. The measure is, furthermore, automatic and not subject to prior approval by the tax authorities.
The previous version of the scheme for early depreciation of assets acquired through leasing is one of the tax measures, referred to collectively as the ‘Spanish Tax Lease System’ or Sistema Español de Arrendamiento Fiscal, which are currently the subject of an in-depth investigation by the Commission (see case SA.21233). The decision adopted today authorises application of the new early depreciation measure in the future. This decision is without prejudice to the conclusions the Commission may draw concerning the compatibility of the earlier version of the scheme.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under case number SA.34736 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the Internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the ‘State aid Weekly e-News’.