In a recent judgment, the Rome Division of the Tax Commission ordered the full refund of debit notes issued by the Lazio region to a foreign aircraft carrier for payment of the tax on aircraft noise pursuant to Regional Law 2/2013 (23936/7/2017 November 13 2017).

Facts

The tax on aircraft noise was introduced in 2013 for noise emissions caused by civil aircraft during take-off and landing at Italian airports. The amount of tax is determined by each region on the basis of an aircraft's maximum take-off weight and the noise levels determined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation for each aircraft type. The following aircraft are exempt from the tax:

  • aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 4.5 tonnes;
  • official state aircraft (ie, those owned by the Italian government or other public bodies);
  • historical aircraft (ie, those that have been registered for more than 40 years);
  • aircraft used for training purposes; and
  • aircraft engaged in:
    • firefighting;
    • rescue operations; and
    • medical or emergency services.

Decision

In the decision, the Tax Commission ordered the "disapplication of Regional Law no. 2/2013", stating that the carrier had not breached EU Directive 2002/30/EC (ie, the provision which indemnifies the population living near airports from being affected by noise pollution).

Accordingly, the Tax Commission cancelled the debit notes issued by the Lazio region to the foreign carrier and ordered a complete refund of the tax paid by the carrier under the tax on aircraft noise.

The Tax Commission highlighted that only a small percentage of the funds collected by the Lazio region were actually allocated to cover the social costs which arise from aircraft noise and used to fund relevant noise reduction measures.

The assessment criteria for the tax on aircraft noise was modified by Decree-Law 144/2013 (the so-called 'Destinazione Italia' decree), which was converted into Law 9/2014. The law fixed the maximum rate of tax at €0.50 per aircraft tonne, which was effective from February 22 2014 and therefore adjusted the tax rate applied by the Lazio region (ie, from €1.60 and €2.50 per aircraft tonne).

In its decision, the Tax Commission did not address Law 9/2014 and, therefore, debit notes issued by the Lazio region for payment of the tax on aircraft noise issued after February 22 2014 are open to be challenged, based on the same arguments applied in this most recent decision.

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For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713) or email (l.pierallini@pierallini.it). The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at www.studiopierallini.it.