Legislation regarding the use of hydrogen as a fuel is developing in the Netherlands. In the first quarter of 2022, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy opened a public consultation on the future regulation of the hydrogen market. The results were summarized and published by the Ministry, providing insights into the market dynamics and interests within the hydrogen market. The Ministry has communicated the intention to share its own analysis of the public consultation with the House of Representatives by summer of 2022. This public consultation was discussed in more detail in our website post of 25 May 2022.
In this article, we discuss Dutch tax aspects of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the automotive sector. Several interesting tax incentives are currently available for hydrogen-powered, zero emission vehicles. We will discuss the Environmental Investment Credit (MIA), Arbitrary Depreciation of Environmental Investments (VAMIL), addition for the use of company cars for Wage Taxes (bijtelling), Private Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Tax (BPM), Subsidy Program for Zero Emission Commercial Vehicles (SEBA) and excise duties.
Environmental Investment Credit
The environmental investment credit, the milieu-investeringsaftrek or MIA, is a tax benefit in the form of an additional deduction for entrepreneurs who want to invest in environmentally friendly business assets. Also, hydrogen-powered cars have been identified by the legislator as being of great importance for the protection of the Dutch environment and are eligible for this allowance.
It is interesting to note that the MIA has been abolished for full-electric passenger cars (BEVs) as of 1 January 2022 but is still available for hydrogen-powered cars for the time being. Furthermore, as of this year, the MIA can also be applied to freight vehicles that run on a mixture of hydrogen and diesel fuel.
This regulation can be summarized as follows. Businesses can apply an additional deduction from the taxable profits based on a percentage of the investment in new business assets. The asset should be included in the Dutch Government’s Environmental List. Hydrogen-powered passenger cars used within business setting are Category 1 MIA assets and are eligible if the investment amount remains below € 75,000. Hydrogen-powered delivery vans also fall under Category 1 and are eligible for investment amounts of up to € 125,000. The MIA additional deduction for Category 1 investments is currently 45%.
Arbitrary Depreciation of Environmental Investments
The Arbitrary Depreciation of Environmental Investments, or VAMIL, is a provision that allows for arbitrary depreciation on environment-friendly assets within the company. The investment should be included in the Dutch Government’s Environmental List. This depreciation is possible up to an amount of 75% of the investment cost and must take place within the time that the asset is used within the company. Since the business can choose the moment of depreciation, this can result in a liquidity or interest advantage. The VAMIL can be applied to passenger cars powered by hydrogen. It is also worth noting that VAMIL and MIA can be applied alongside each other.
Additional tax liability
If a company car is elected to be used privately as well, an addition (or bijtelling) to the salary for wage tax purposes applies. In 2022, the reduced additional tax liability rate of 16% of the car’s list price will apply to hydrogen-powered cars. For BEVs, this 16% rate applies to the first € 35,000, with the regular additional tax liability rate of 22% applying to the excess portion of the list price.
Private Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Tax
The Private Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Tax, or BPM, is a purchase and import tax that is calculated based on the vehicle's CO2 emissions. Since hydrogen-powered cars have no CO2 emissions, no BPM is due on purchase or import. The exemption for zero-emission vehicles will remain in place at least until 2024. It is however expected that the purchase and use of hydrogen-powered cars will continue to be subsidized beyond 2024.
For delivery vans, there is a general exemption from BPM regardless of the emission or fuel. Incidentally, in their Coalition Agreement and the 2022 Spring Memorandum, the government announced that this exemption for delivery vans still running on gasoline and diesel would be phased out between 2024 and 2026. The government hopes that the measure will raise extra revenues up to 2030, the year in which the Netherlands wants to achieve the Paris climate targets, and that it will speed up the adoption of zero emission cars by entrepreneurs.
Subsidy Program for Zero Emission Commercial Vehicles
From 15 March 2021 to 31 December 2025, the Government opened the Subsidy Program for Zero Emission Commercial Vehicles (SEBA). Businesses can apply for the subsidy for the purchase or sometimes financial lease of zero-emission vehicles. To be eligible for SEBA, certain specific requirements must be met. For example, the car cannot have been delivered earlier and the weight cannot exceed 4,250 kilograms. The subsidy is maximized on € 5,000 per application. Meanwhile, more than half of the annual subsidy budget of € 22,000,000 has already been granted.
In the Netherlands and Europe, the network of hydrogen fuel stations has much room left to grow. For instance, the Netherlands currently has only 16 operational hydrogen fuel stations. More and more stations should be appearing in the near future. Hydrogen as a motor fuel is not subject to excise duties (accijns) at the pumps, currently. It is also not expected that this will be introduced in the short term.
Expectations for tax schemes on hydrogen-powered vehicles
The tax incentives and benefits that are currently in place show the Dutch Government is actively incentivizing investments in hydrogen-powered vehicles. As the market for hydrogen-powered cars matures, it is quite possible that these benefits will be phased out. We are seeing this happening for electric passenger cars already, looking at the abolishment of the MIA and VAMIL, the scaling back of reduction of wage tax additions, and uncertainty about the BPM exemption. We are closely monitoring the developments regarding hydrogen in the Automotive sector and will be sure to keep you informed.
If you have any questions about the application of these tax regulations or what this means for your company, please contact one of our advisors.