The EU’s Windfall Profits Tax: How “Tax Fairness” Got in the Way of Energy Security



On 30 September, the Council of the European Union agreed to impose an EU-wide windfall profits tax on fossil fuel companies to fund relief for households and businesses facing high energy prices (due primarily to Putin’s war on Ukraine).

Given the dire economic environment for families and the urgency to transition away from Russian energy, extracting profits from fossil fuel companies to transfer to needy households sounds like killing two birds with one stone. It might even sound fair in a year when oil companies are making record profits because of higher energy prices. 

Unfortunately, it’s not sound policy. If history is any indicator, it will only make these goals harder to achieve.

The tax (or “Solidarity Contribution” in EU-speak) is calculated on taxable profits starting in 2022 and/or 2023, depending on national tax rules, that are above a 20 percent increase of the average yearly taxable profits since 2018. The EU anticipates the policy will raise about €140 billion.

Author(s): Sean Bray

Publication Date: 4 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Tax Foundation