In May 2021, the European Commission published the Communication on Business Taxation for the 21st Century, setting out the Commission’s long-term vision to provide a fair and sustainable business environment and EU tax system. Policy initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability through tax measures tend to be focused on large companies, either as power suppliers (decarbonising the energy sector) or the most significant power users (supporting industry to innovate).
Leaseurope has pointed out that on its own, this approach risks missing the opportunity to help the 99% of European businesses that are SMEs to contribute to a more sustainable European economy through their investment in new equipment and vehicles. Leasing and rental services are used by over 40% of all SMEs, that is over 8 million European businesses. Leaseurope’s research has also shown that SMEs using leasing and rental invest more than twice as much as other SMEs, in other words most businesses with substantial investment needs are likely to lease or rent new vehicles and equipment. If the tax policy goal is to support investment and sustainability, making this work for SMEs and the leasing and rental firms enabling their investment is essential.
Taxation measures to support sustainable investment should:
- Work for all types of leasing and rental as it's the finance method most likely to be used by SMEs
- Consider the many interactions with national accounting rules, law, and the composition of the local financial services industry
- Avoid discouraging the use of debt finance, which would constrain investment and lead to prolonged use of polluting vehicles and equipment
- Simplify tax rules relating to intra-European transfers of leased assets, which today remain unnecessarily cumbersome and increase costs