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    Fossil fuel tax benefits decrease to €2.7 billion per year

    Between 2014 and 2016, the Belgian state distributed at least €4 billion per year in fossil fuel tax benefits, a new study has shown. The figure has since decreased to around €2.7 billion, according to a WWF (World Wildlife Fund) report published on Tuesday. In it, the environmental agency calls for the amount to be “urgently” redirected “towards investing in a carbon-neutral society, with appropriate subsidy measures for those countries in need of them.”

    The study takes into account the advantageous tax treatment of fossil fuels over other energy sources and direct state budget expenditure. The reduced annual total amount of €2.7 billion has arisen from reduced consumer taxes (businesses and individuals), from domestic oil and the advantageous treatment of fuel cards within businesses. Also causing the financial mix is the non-taxation of aeroplane kerosene and even the partial reimbursement for diesel granted to taxi drivers and freight carriers.

    The report authors said that they had undertaken a “cautious” assessment, several figures not being known. There was a lack of transparency by the authorities, they regretted.

    “There is three and a half times the government aid for heating oil, than for building renovation and insulation,” the WWF stated.  

    A Belgian household with a company car enjoys an average of €493 in tax benefits a month. The state only grants €94 per month for a household using public transport, said the report.

    The solution could be the “gradual dismantling” of the benefits granted for company cars, limiting fuel cards, reducing the tax advantages of heating oil (combined with social compensatory measures), and the taxation of kerosene and airline tickets in equal measure.

    At the same time, it is necessary to increase financial subsidies for building renovation and insulation, stimulate low-energy heating solutions and invest in public transport, argues the NGO.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times