Despite the pressure, the government held firm. In accordance with the red line set by Bercy, there will not, strictly speaking, be a tax on the superprofits of companies linked to the energy crisis. Instead, the government has opted within the framework of 49.3 for the adoption of two mechanisms, imagined and defended by Brussels, to make energy companies contribute to the crisis, and to finance exceptional measures to support purchasing power.
The first, called “contribution on the infra-marginal rent of electricity production”, will make it possible to cap the income of electricity producers currently benefiting from stratospheric energy prices, even though their operating costs are not have not increased. Concretely, the State plans to puncture the difference between the sale price of electricity on the markets (which could exceed 400 € per megawatt hour this summer), and a ceiling, set at 180 € per megawatt hour.
Between 5 and 7 billion euros on electricians
According to Bercy, this exceptional contribution, which will weigh largely on EDF, could bring in between 5 and 7 billion euros in 2023, to be added to the existing system on renewables. Since the beginning of the year, France has in fact benefited from a somewhat similar mechanism, initially created to guarantee renewable energy producers a minimum income: when market prices are low, the State undertakes to buy electricity from them at a guaranteed selling price – which has cost between 6 and 8 billion a year until now – but when prices are high, it is the State that pockets the difference.
For the first time with the war in Ukraine, prices reached such heights that they allowed the state to collect surplus revenues. According to the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), this system brought in 4.3 billion in 2022 (against an anticipated expenditure of 8.8 billion), and should bring in the same amount next year. Amounts of course difficult to assess (given the variability of market prices, and the current negotiations in Europe to lower these prices), but which are in any case far from the sums brandished by the government.
In an interview at Figarothe Minister of Public Accounts, Gabriel Attal, announced at the start of the week that the exceptional contribution requested from energy companies would “several tens of billions of euros” in the state. In view of CRE’s estimates, it is difficult to understand how this contribution could offset half of the 49.5 billion euros planned for 2023 for the tariff shield, as indicated in one of the documents appended to the budget.
200 million euros on fossil fuels
As for the second device, also defended by Brussels, it will make it possible to tax oil, gas, coal or refining manufacturers whose 2022 profits have exceeded the average of the last four years by 20%. Initially opposed to this tax, the government backtracked a few days before the vote on the budget in the Assembly. But in France, where companies do not extract oil, this contribution will only bring in 200 million euros. A drop of water compared to the 10 billion euros in profits made by TotalÉnergies in the first half or the 2.6 billion in interim dividends that will be paid by the oil company at the end of the year.
More than ever determined to make the super-profiteers of the crisis pay, the Nupes pleaded for the establishment of an exceptional tax which would have weighed on large companies (+ 750 million euros in turnover), all sectors combined. . To puncture Total and CMA CGM, the two big winners of the crisis, which do not pay or almost no corporate tax in France, the opposition also proposed a device weighing on their turnover. Proposals immediately dismissed, on the grounds that they would break the dynamics of tax cuts initiated by the government since the beginning of the previous five-year term.
It is also for the same reason that the majority decided to exclude from 49.3 the tax on superdividends, proposed by the MoDem, and voted by the National Assembly with 288 votes in favor – including 19 Renaissance deputies – against 88 vote against. On BFMTV, Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of Finance, justified this decision: “Superdividends, superprofits… We must stop with these formulas which are deceptions. »