43 million euro tax claim against Opel Belgium
Eight years after the closing of the Belgian Opel plant, tax authorities are still claiming 43,8 million euro overdue taxes dating from 2008 and 2009. This has resulted in a law suit where GM Belgium (now Opel Belgium) won at first but fiscal authorities have appealed.
In January 2010, American car manufacturer General Motors suddenly announced it wanted to close the plant in Antwerp after 85 years. In December of that same year, the last Opel was assembled in Antwerp and 2.500 people lost their job.
Tax authorities did/do not agree with the so-called transfer pricing at the time between GM Belgium and mother company, Adam Opel AG. According to authorities, unjustified benefits were transferred to Germany.
Also internal transactions between subsidiaries inside a company have to be done at correct transfer pricing tariffs for the sector. Fiscal authorities esteemed the payment from Opel Adam AG to GM Belgium for assembled cars non correct.
The transfer pricing was done “at cost” and that’s not so common in the sector. According to the authorities, this pricing was also conflicting with OECD rules. Furthermore, they were questioning the fact that assembling benefits were shared between Belgium and Germany.
Another problem was the fact that part of the restructuring costs after the closing had to be paid by GM Belgium. According to the tax authorities, the decision for the closing was made in Germany at Adam Opel AG, so it’s the mother company which has to pay the restructuring costs.
As GM Belgium contested the tax claims and things weren’t moving, GM Belgium started a law suit against Belgian tax authorities in 2016 to obtain a legal decision. In a first jurisdiction the court ruled in favour of GM Belgium, but tax authorities lodged an appeal.
After a lot of transactions and alterations the tax authorities still claim 43,8 million euro of unpaid taxes. Opel Belgium (formerly GM Belgium but renamed after the selling of Opel to PSA) refuses to comment on the matter for the moment because of the appeal.