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European Commission - Press release

Taxation: Commission refers the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice for abolishing the "remedy for repayment of taxes paid in mistake of law"

Brussels, 26 January 2012 – The European Commission has decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU's Court of Justice for abolishing the "remedy for repayment of taxes paid in mistake of law" without proper transitional rules.

Under EU law, taxes that must be reimbursed when these taxes have been levied in breach of EU rules should be repaid according to the national rules on internal tax reimbursements. This reimbursement should not be made impossible or excessively difficult. In this respect, a retroactive limitation of the rights of taxpayers without proper transitional rules goes against this principle.

The UK retroactively abolished one of the remedies used by taxpayers seeking reimbursement of taxes paid in breach of EU law. No proper transitional rules are provided for (except in certain limited circumstances). As a result, it is therefore practically impossible in certain cases to exercise the rights conferred by EU law. This goes against EU rules as this measure exceeded the limits of national procedural autonomy (Article 4(3) of the Treaty on the European Union).

On 30 September 2010 the Commission already formally requested the United Kingdom (IP/10/1251) to ensure compliance with the EU rules, but the latter refused to change its law.


For press releases on infringement cases in the taxation or customs field see:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/12/42

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

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Natasja Bohez Rubiano (+32 2 296 64 70)

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