Proximus, Mobistar, and Base Company were up in arms on Friday over the tax on mobile phone infrastructure Brussels authorities are considering implementing. It would aim to bring in 10 million euros a year for the regional budget, and would give local councils the option of levying a similar sum, at a total cost of 20 million euros a year for the industry. Mobile phone operators mention an “impossible choice” for them within the capital city. A similar tax is already in place in Wallonia, although Proximus, Base Company, as well as Mobistar have so far refused to pay and are taking legal action to fight it.
Overall the combined taxes would represent an additional annual contribution of over 70 million euros. Operators regret having at no time been consulted, and only found out about the Brussels authorities’ plans in the press. They highlight that they contribute significantly to the “collective effort” by paying over 300 million euros a year in corporate tax and annual expenses.
In Brussels alone, the 3 companies together invested 65 million euros in 2014 to develop their mobile phone infrastructure. They calculate that the new tax would represent no less than 30% of annual investments in the capital.
According to Proximus, Base Company, and Mobistar, whichever company invests most within the capital city will de facto pay more tax. “Brussels needs to understand that at the end of the day, they cannot have their cake and eat it,” warn the 3 operators, whilst reaching out to Brussels authorities. “We will have to choose between being able to pay tax or financing innovation.”