Expensive material: gas flame on a stove
Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa
Concern is growing that the planned state gas levy, together with significant price increases, could overwhelm private households in Germany.
The coalition is therefore considering eliminating VAT.
“The levy must not be the basis for further tax revenue.
That is why it is currently being examined whether the VAT can be applied to the levy," said the energy policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Kruse, after a special session of the Bundestag's energy and climate committee.
»If this is not technically possible, it is clear to me that the additional government revenue must be returned to consumers together with further relief.«
City council demands subsidies for the levy
The German Association of Cities is also calling for state aid for overburdened households.
“The federal government should reduce the surcharge through state subsidies if prices on the market continue to rise and there is a risk of too great a burden on consumers and the economy,” says Markus Lewe, president of the city council.
The state gas surcharge is to be introduced in October for companies and private households and will benefit gas suppliers who have to buy replacement gas volumes from Russia at high prices for the lack of cheaper gas volumes.
A Treasury spokesman said that under current legislation, the gas levy is part of the assessment basis for calculating sales tax - meaning it also increases the tax burden.
The ministry is examining ways to ensure that gas customers do not incur any additional burdens in this context.
Possible problems with fixed price contracts
There are also legal problems with the implementation of the levy.
Specifically, the question is whether customers with fixed-price contracts have to pay the levy.
A spokesman for Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) spoke on Wednesday of a detail that had to be clarified.
A spokesman for the energy supplier Eon told SPIEGEL that "unresolved questions about various types of contract, such as fixed-price contracts, still need to be clarified."
The general manager of the municipal utility association VKU, Ingbert Liebing, fears that without such clarification, the municipal utility would have to pay the levy, but would not be allowed to pass on the costs.
There could even be a change in the law so that the surcharge could be levied in October as planned.
This was reported by the Reuters news agency from government circles.
According to SPIEGEL information, the Ministry of Economics is currently examining where there are open questions and what possible answers could look like.
Habeck recently named a range of 1.5 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour in which the gas levy is expected to move.
For an average four-person household with a consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours per year, that would be 300 to 1000 euros.
In addition, at least according to the current status, there is a tax of 19 percent.
How much is the fee supposed to cost?
According to calculations by the comparison portal Verivox, the additional costs including VAT for a single household with an annual consumption of 5000 kilowatt hours of gas per year are between 89 euros and 298 euros.
In a couple household with an annual consumption of 12,000 kilowatt hours, the additional costs would be between 214 and 714 euros, for a household with a single-family house and an annual consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours, the additional costs would be 357 to 1190 euros.
This calculation does not take into account the actual price increases on the gas market, which are likely to be significantly higher.
According to Verivox, if VAT were to be eliminated, the single household would be relieved by between 14 and 48 euros, the couple household by 34 to 114 euros and the household with a single-family house by between 57 and 190 euros.
City Council President Lewe said that in the current energy crisis it was right for consumers to be involved in making provisions for a secure energy supply.
»But the gas surcharge must not overwhelm people financially.
It needs to be set judiciously and spread out over a period of time, rather than going up and down in the short term every few months.
Otherwise we have no planning security for the end customer.«
There is already a debate going on in the coalition as to what additional relief needs to be provided and whether this needs to come at the same time as the levy.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had announced a major housing benefit reform at the beginning of next year.
That would mean that consumers would have to bear the additional costs for a quarter of a year without relief.
Lewe said the announced housing benefit reform was correct because it would give more people the right to housing benefit.
"In addition, today's one-off heating cost subsidy must soon be converted into a permanent flat-rate heating cost subsidy."