(Adds Polish comment, context)
BRUSSELS, Sept 19 The European Commission opened
an in-depth investigation on Monday into a new Polish
progressive tax on the retail sector that it says may be
discriminatory and ordered its suspension until the probe has
The injunction on the collection of the tax means less
revenue to the Polish budget, which is already under strain from
rising welfare spending, notably monthly child-support payouts.
Under the tax, which entered into force on Sept. 1,
companies involved in Poland's retail sector pay a monthly tax
based on their turnover. It is a cornerstone of the conservative
government's efforts to redistribute wealth in the economy.
"The Commission has concerns that the progressive rates
based on turnover give companies with a low turnover a selective
advantage over their competitors in breach of EU state aid
rules," the EU executive arm said in a statement.
The Polish finance ministry said in a statement it had been
prepared for such a decision from the Commission and would
announce plans to address it on Tuesday.
Under the Polish levy plan, companies with a monthly
turnover below 17 million zlotys ($4.41 million) would not pay
any tax at all, those with turnover between 17 million zlotys
and 170 million zlotys a month would pay 0.8 percent and those
above 170 million zlotys would pay 1.4 percent.
"The Commission does not question Poland's right to decide
on its taxation levels or the purpose of different taxes and
levies," it said in the statement.
"However, the tax system should respect EU law, including
state aid rules, and should not unduly favour a particular type
of company, for example companies with lower turnover," it
said.($1 = 3.8523 zlotys)
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Pawel Sobczak in
Warsaw; Editing by Gareth Jones)