A new Spanish taxTaxes Wed, 4 Sep 2013
In the middle of an economic crisis it seems as though European governments are thinking up even more weird and wonderful ways of clawing back money. Of course, taxation is one of the main ways that they can attempt to make the books balance. But who would have thought the Spanish government would think of a tax on air-conditioners?
A tax on air-conditioners conjures up references from my school days to a window tax that was imposed in England in the 17th and 18th century. A property tax based on the number of windows in the house, it led to people taking all kinds of measures, such as bricking up their windows, to avoid it. Being England, the threat of stifling to death in the heat was generally not the issue but plunging into darkness to avoid paying tax was still a pretty desperate measure to take.
The new Spanish tax isn’t actually on the air-conditioning system itself but on fluorinated greenhouse gases and will be implemented from January 1st 2014. There is some disagreement currently about how much the new air-conditioner tax will actually amount to. Estimates have ranged from 5 euros to 65 euros. The tax will not be paid directly by the household but by the manufacturer and for this reason there is some uncertainty about how much difference it will actually make to the final cost.
There is no doubt that the air-conditioner tax is largely about making money. However, it is also being labelled as a ‘green tax’ as an extra 33 euros will be charged on each kilo of fluorinated gas. A domestic unit needs about two kilos of fluorinated gas to run. It’s not just domestic users who will be charged. Industrial users, such as agriculture, hostelry and tourism, will have an even bigger bill and there are concerns that this will also have to be passed down to the customer.
Either through knock-on costs from air-con use in business or directly through purchasing our own, there is no doubt that the average person will be affected by this new tax. How much and whether it will change our habits is yet to be seen.