Energy taxes are levied on
- liquid fuels:
- heavy and light fuel oil
- engine fuels
- aviation gasoline and kerosene-type jet fuel
- natural gas
- fuel peat
- tall oil.
Energy taxation in the EU
In the EU, energy taxation is provided for in the Council Directive 2003/96/EC, that is, the Energy Taxation Directive, which entered into force on 1 January 2004. The directive defines the energy products and lays down the minimum levels of taxation for fuels.
Energy taxation in Finland
In Finland, energy taxes are levied on electricity, coal, natural gas, fuel peat, tall oil and liquid fuels.
To cover the expenses incurred by the State with a view to emergency stockpiling and other measures to secure supplies, a strategic stockpile fee is also levied on liquid fuels, electricity, coal and natural gas.
The following provisions provide for energy taxes and strategic stockpile fees:
- Act on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels (1472/1994)
- Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels (1260/1996)
- Decree on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels (1547/1994)
- Decree of Ministry of Trade and Industry on internal consumption equipment (309/2003)
Act on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels
Excise duty on liquid fuels is levied on motor gasoline, small engine gasoline, bioethanol, ethers used as additives in motor gasoline (MTBE, TAME, ETBE and TAEE), biogasoline, ethanol-diesel, diesel oil, paraffinic diesel oil, biodiesel oil, light fuel oil, biofuel oil, heavy fuel oil, LPG, aviation gasoline and kerosene-type jet fuel as well as on methanol. In addition, all products used as engine fuels (e.g. motor kerosene, carburettor spirit, or biofuels) are also subject to taxation. All hydrocarbons used for heating are also subject to taxation.
Exempt from excise duty and strategic stockpile fee are fuels used as energy sources in oil refining processes, fuels used in industrial production as raw material or auxiliary, fuels in direct first use for the production of goods, fuels for vessel traffic other than private leisure boats, fuels used in the production of electricity, and fuels used for aviation other than private leisure flights.
The parties liable to pay tax are authorised warehouse keepers as well as registered consignees and temporary registered consignees. Moreover, parties who import excisable products from non-EU countries are also liable to pay tax, as well as parties who acquire such products for tax-exempt purposes without due cause.
Motor gasoline refers to gasoline classified under customs tariff heading 2710.
Small engine gasoline
Small engine gasoline refers to the product classified under customs tariff heading 2710 11 41 00 which is compliant with the limits prescribed by section 2 paragraph 10 of the Act on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels. According to Government Bill No. 147/2010, small engine gasoline is different from regular gasoline especially with regard to its hydrocarbon composition. Small engine gasoline refers to gasoline composed of saturated, significantly branched alkalis that in practice does not contain any aromates or olefins. Small engine gasoline does not contain any of the most harmful hydrocarbons such as benzene.
Bioethanol refers to a product made from biomass that is classified under customs tariff heading 2207 in cases where it is intended for use as heating or motor fuel.
If the bioethanol has been mixed with for example gasoline, the mix is not classified under the customs tariff heading for ethanol (2207) upon import, but under tariff heading 3824. This does not, however, affect the taxation of bioethanol if the party liable to pay duties for the fuel can specify the share of ethanol in the mix.
Ethers refer to gasoline components classified under customs tariff heading 2909: • MTBE (a methanol-based methyl tert-butyl ether)
- TAME (a methanol-based tert-Amyl methyl ether)
- ETBE (an ethanol-based ethyl tert-butyl ether)
- TAEE (an ethanol-based tert-Amyl ethyl ether).
Biogasoline refers to an oxygen-free hydrocarbon component of gasoline produced from biomass and classified under customs tariff heading 2710.
Ethanol–diesel refers to a fuel with an ethanol content of 83–92 per cent by volume and with a content of additive improving flammability of 5–10 per cent by volume.
Diesel oil refers to diesel oil classified under customs tariff heading 2710.
Paraffinic diesel oil
Paraffinic diesel oil (diesel oil para) refers to a product with a minimum cetane number of 70, a density of 770–800 g per litre at the temperature of 15 °C, a maximum polyaromatic hydrocarbon content of 0.1 per cent by weight, a maximum sulphur content of 5 mg per kg, and from which at least 95 per cent by volume is distilled at the temperature of 360 °C. If paraffinic diesel oil is to be mixed with diesel oil, the diesel oil must meet the appropriate quality requirements prior to the mixing.
Biodiesel oil refers to a product which corresponds to diesel oil and is produced from biomass.
Aviation gasoline refers to fuel classified under customs tariff heading 2710, applicable for the combustion engines of aircraft.
Kerosene-type jet fuel
Kerosene-type jet fuel refers to fuel classified under customs tariff heading 2710, applicable for the turbine or diesel engines of aircraft.
Light fuel oil
Light fuel oil refers to diesel oil and gas oil classified under customs tariff heading 2710, applicable for heating and for machinery and stationary engines. Light fuel oil refers to a product of which, according to the EN ISO 3405 or ASTM D 86 method, at least 85 per cent by volume, including distillation losses, distils at 350 °C. Furthermore, light fuel oil is to be made recognisable as provided by the Decree on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels. The use of light fuel oil as fuel for vehicles and watercraft is provided for by the Act on Fuel Fee (1280/2003) and the Act on Fuel Fee for Private Leisure Boats (1307/2007).
Sulphur-free light fuel oil
Sulphur-free light fuel oil refers to light fuel oil with a maximum sulphur content of 10 mg per kg.
Biofuel oil refers to fuel which is produced from biomass and is applicable for heating, stationary diesel engines and machinery equipped with a diesel engine.
Heavy fuel oil
With the exceptions of diesel oil and light fuel oil, heavy fuel oil refers to an oil and oil product classified under customs tariff heading 2710, applicable for heating. Heavy fuel oil refers to a product of which, according to the EN ISO 3405 or ASTM D 86 method, less than 65 per cent by volume, including distillation losses, distils at 250 °C, or whose percentage by volume cannot be determined with the said methods at 250 °C.
Abbreviations used in the tax rate table
Abbreviations have been added in the tax rate table for liquid fuels in order to classify biofuels based on their environmental qualities. Section 27 paragraph 2 of the Act defines the abbreviations as follows:
- R indicates that the biofuel meets the sustainability criteria referred to in the Directive.
- T indicates that the biofuel meets the said sustainability criteria and has been produced from waste or leftovers, from inedible cellulose material or from lignocellulose.
- P refers to the above-mentioned paraffinic diesel oil.
The liquid fuels for which no tax rates are quoted in the above tax table are to be taxed on the basis of their intended use according to the tax rate of the corresponding motor or heating fuel indicated in the tax table.
Furthermore, all other products used or intended to be used or marketed as motor fuels or auxiliaries, additives, or substances enlarging the volume of motor fuel are also taxable in accordance with the rate of the corresponding motor fuel.
In addition to liquid fuels, all hydrocarbons used or intended to be used or marketed for heating purposes are taxable in accordance with the tax rate of the corresponding heating fuel.
Assessment of tax and fee
The excise duty and the strategic stockpile fee are always assessed on the basis of a product with a temperature of 15°C. As a rule, the taxpayers are authorised warehouse keepers who must pay tax according to the quantity of fuel they release for consumption and use themselves during the tax period.
As of 1 January 2011, the taxation of liquid fuels is carried out as taxation of fuel components referred to in the tax rate table.
Liquid biofuels are to comply with the criteria of sustainable development prescribed by Directive 2009/28/EC.
Exempt from tax and strategic stockpile fee are
- fuels entered in the reserve stock of the State
- fuels used as an energy source in an oil refining process
- fuels used as raw material or auxiliary in industrial production, or in direct first use in the production of goods
- fuels used in vessel traffic other than private leisure boating
- fuels used to generate electricity
- fuels used in aviation other than private leisure flights
Procedures for small producers of biofuel oil
Biofuel oil refers to biofuel used in heating, stationary diesel engines, and machinery equipped with a diesel engine. Biofuel oil can be produced from all types of biomass.
Small volume producers of biofuel oil are subjected to a simplified excise taxation procedure in cases where their production volume is less than 100 000 litres per calendar year and the fuel is not moved elsewhere than for consumption in Finland and is not used in Finland as fuel in traffic. To register as taxpayers, producers of biofuel oil must submit a written notification to Customs.
If the amount of produced biofuel oil exceeds 100 000 litres per calendar year or it is produced for export or for traffic use, regular authorisation procedures of excise taxation shall be applied.
LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) refers to propane or butane or their mixture. LPG is defined by legislation as an energy product, and it falls under the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS).
As of 1 January 2016, LPG is no longer exempt from tax. This means that tax-exempt production, warehousing, dispatching and receiving of LPG requires an authorisation as referred to in the Act on Excise Duty. Operators who use large volumes of LPG for tax-exempt purposes can also be granted this authorisation.
LPG in retail packages of no more than 1 000 grams will only subject to the provisions on excise movement and control; tax will not be collected on such packages of liquefied petroleum gas. As for other tax exemptions, LPG is subject to the same tax exemptions as the other liquid fuels (see previous page).
Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels
Taxation of electricity
The excise taxation of electricity has been graded into two categories. Electricity used in industry or server rooms is subject to the lower (II) tax category. Excise duty of the higher (I) tax category must be paid on all other use of electricity. Therefore, excise duty of the higher (I) tax category is collected on electricity used by private households as well as agriculture, forestry, construction, public administration and service functions.
(Tax rate table 2)
Electricity entitled to category II tax
Electricity used in industry or server rooms is subject to tax category II. Industry refers to industrial manufacturing and processing of goods; comparable to industry are minor support activities outside industry which take place on the production site of an industrial company and are mainly connected with the company’s own industrial production. Professional greenhouse cultivation is also comparable to industry. Industry refers to a plant or enterprise whose principal branch belongs under section C (Manufacturing) and section B ( Mining and quarrying) of the Standard Industrial Classification (TOL 2008) by Statistics Finland in 2008.
Electricity delivered for tax category II purposes must always be measured separately. For electricity to be delivered according to tax category II, the user has to give the network operator a written declaration that he is entitled to tax category II.
Excise duty on electricity for server rooms
Server room refers to a data centre with a total power of more than 5 MW, in which a company runs information service activities, data processing, renting of server premises and related services as its main line of business. All electricity required by servers located in the server room, by equipment directly connected with them and located in the same premises, by cooling equipment and their pumps and by all light and safety devices is included in the total power. Electricity used for cooling outside the server room (e.g. district cooling) is not included in the electric power of the server room.
Also, the power of a server room does not refer to the planned maximum power of the server room, but the power available. The lower tax category does not apply to such server room activities that are only supporting activities in comparison with the main line of business (e.g. trade, financing etc.), even if the total power of the server room exceeds 5 MW.
Parties liable to pay excise duty on electricity
As a rule, those liable to pay excise duty on electricity are network operators and electricity producers. Depending on the circumstances, a party that has acquired tax category II electricity can also be liable to pay excise duty, if the electricity is, nevertheless, consumed for tax category I purposes. Likewise, if a party other than a network operator receives electricity in its business activities from another Member State or imports electricity from outside the Community, and the electricity does not pass through the electricity network of a network operator in Finland, the recipient of electricity is liable to pay excise duty on the respective volume of electricity.
A party liable to pay excise duty on electricity has to register as a taxpayer with Customs, in writing and separately for each power plant.
The taxpayer has to submit a tax declaration for electricity to Customs for each month, by the 18th day of the following month and pay the imposed excise duties by the 27th day of that month.
Parties exempt from paying excise duty on electricity
Exemption from liability to pay excise duty on electricity means in practice that the producers in question may, exempt from excise duty, themselves use the electricity they produce or release it directly to another party for consumption.
- It should be noted, however, that if the produced electricity is transferred for consumption through an electricity network, the exemption from excise duty will not be "transferred" with the electricity. Instead, the network operator that transfers the electricity for consumption will be liable to pay the excise duty.
The smallest electricity producers, that is, those who produce electricity with micro power plants with a nominal effect of no more than 100 kVA, are exempt from all obligations regarding electricity taxation. These producers do not have to register as taxpayers or submit tax declarations for their electricity production.
Small producers of electricity with a nominal effect of more than 100 kVA, but with an annual production of no more than 800 000 kWh, however, have to register with Customs as taxpayers, but they only have to submit a tax declaration once a year (in January for the entire previous year), so that the prescribed annual production limit can be monitored.
- Even these small producers of electricity do not have to pay excise duty on the electricity that they themselves produce and use. Instead, they submit an annual tax declaration as a so-called zero tax declaration, where they only declare the volume of produced electricity.
- However, if an electricity producer registered as a small producer exceeds the annual production limit, it will immediately during the month following the exceeding of the limit have to submit a tax declaration for the entire production from the beginning of the year and pay any excise duties on electricity that should have been levied from the beginning of the year.
These provisions on liability to pay excise duty on electricity apply in the same way to all forms of electricity production and all fuels used in the production.
In the future, there will be three categories of electricity producers as regards the obligation to pay excise duty on electricity:
- Micro power plants with a nominal effect of no more than 100 kVA, which are completely outside the scope of taxation.
- Small power plants with a nominal effect of more than 100 kVA, but with an annual production of no more than 800 000 kWh, which register as small electricity producers and submit one tax declaration for the whole year for the volume of electricity they produced.
- Electricity producers, power plants with a nominal effect of more than 100 kVA and with an annual production of more than 800 000 kWh. Submit a normal tax declaration (taxable and tax-exempt deliveries) every month, regardless of whether they supply electricity to the electricity network or not.
Parties liable to pay tax have to register with Finnish Tax Administration as taxpayers
All electricity producers and owners of emergency power sources with a nominal effect of more than 100 kVA have to register with Finnish Tax Administration as taxpayers.
The registration status of electricity producers and owners of emergency power sources depends on the volume of annual electricity production of the plant or the source. Such small producers are, for example, shopping centres, logistics terminals, office buildings and other large properties as well as emergency power units of hospitals and other large properties.
If the annual production does not exceed 800 000 kWh, the electricity producer or the owner of the emergency power source only submits one so-called zero tax declaration per year. However, if the annual production exceeds 800 000 kWh, the producer is registered as a normal taxpayer and has to submit a tax declaration every month.
It should also be noted that the registration with Finnish Tax Administration has to be made in writing regarding all power plants, generators, emergency power sources and other electricity production systems in this category, separately for each power plant. The registration also applies to all emergency power sources and generators with a nominal effect of more than 100 kVA that until now have not been subject to taxation. It no longer has any significance whether the power plant supplies electricity to a network or not.
Basis for the assessment of excise duty on electricity
The excise duty on electricity and the strategic stockpile fee are assessed for each tax period in accordance with
- the volume of electricity which the network operator releases for consumption
- the volume of electricity which the electricity producer or the small producer produces as well as the quantity of electricity which the electricity producer or the small producer has acquired exempt from tax and uses itself or releases for taxable consumption
- the difference between the tax categories I and II in cases where purchased electricity of category II is used for a purpose falling under category I
- the volume of electricity received or imported by the consumer of electricity without the use of the electricity network in Finland.
The volume of the electricity released for consumption or consumed refers to the volume for which the network operator charges the electricity consumer, directly or through a sales company, in connection with the transmission of electricity.
In their tax declarations, network operators and electricity producers are entitled to deduct excise duty on electricity and supply security fee that have been unduly declared and paid. For example, in a situation where electricity has been transferred under tax category I for tax category II consumption, the network operator or the electricity producer may themselves rectify the error in the tax declaration by deducting the excess payment of tax.
The deduction must be made within three years from the start of the calendar year following the declaration of unduly paid tax. The maximum amount of deduction is the tax and supply security fee payable for the tax period.
Electricity exempt from tax
Exempt from excise duty and strategic stockpile fee is electricity
- transmitted between electricity networks (i.e. from one network operator to another)
- released by an electricity producer, a small producer or a micro producer into an electricity network
- released to an area outside the Community or delivered for consumption elsewhere in the Community territory than in Finland
- delivered for the direct use of electric rail traffic
- consumed by the internal consumption equipment within the production of electricity or combined electricity/heat of a power plant (Decree 309/2003 of the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry)
- released into a power plant network
- produced by a small producer and not released into an electricity network.
Taxation of combined production of electricity and heat
The key principle of the legislation on energy taxation is that the fuels consumed in the production of electricity are exempt from tax and the fuels consumed in the production of heat are subject to tax. With regard to situations where the same plant may produce both electricity and heat, an instruction has been issued on how the fuels used by the plant are considered to be spent in the production of heat and electricity, respectively.
The combined production of electricity and heat means that, during a tax period, a power plant produces both electricity and heat for utility purposes either simultaneously or separately. This means that, in terms of taxation, the production taking place in an individual plant may be interpreted as combined production of electricity and heat, or as separate production of electricity or separate production of heat during different tax periods. Therefore, decisive for the taxation is what the plant is producing during a tax period, not what technological type the plant is considered to represent.
The fuels used to produce heat in a combined production plant are defined on the basis of the heat transferred to consumption by applying effective heat values. Heat transferred to consumption refers to the quantity of heat transmitted by the power plant to a district heating and process steam network, and for other corresponding utility purposes.
The taxes on the fuels used to produce heat in a combined production plant are assessed on the basis of the heat quantity which is obtained by multiplying the effective heat quantity transmitted to consumption by 0.9. The heat quantity thus obtained is divided onto each of the used fuels in the proportion of their consumption.
Reduction of carbon dioxide tax in combined production
According to section 4 subsection 2 of the Act on Excise Duty on Liquid Fuels and section 4 subsection 3 of the Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels, in cases where light fuel oil, biofuel oil, heavy fuel oil, coal or natural gas is used in a combined production plant of electricity and heat, the amount of carbon dioxide tax will be fifty per cent of the amount prescribed by the tax rate table.
Authorised warehouse keepers can cite the amount of carbon dioxide tax in their tax declarations by referring directly to the reduced tax rate, whereas other fuel consumers are to apply for a tax refund in order to obtain the reduction.
Taxability and tax-exempt use of fuels
Excise duty on coal
Coal is subject to excise duty and strategic stockpile fee. As a rule, the parties liable to pay these are authorised warehouse keepers as well as registered and temporary registered consignees. Coal used in industrial production as raw material or auxiliary or in direct first use in the production of goods is exempt from excise duty and strategic stockpile fee.
Also exempt from excise duty and strategic stockpile fee is coal
- used as raw material or auxiliary in industrial production, or in direct first use in the production of goods
- delivered by an authorised warehouse operator for release for consumption elsewhere in the Community territory than in Finland
- used to generate electricity
- used in vessel traffic other than private leisure boating.
Excise duty on tall oil
An entrepreneur engaged in industrial production is liable to pay excise duty on tall oil used for heating purposes. Heating refers to the use of fuel for burning.
Excise duty on natural gas
Natural gas is excisable when it is released for consumption in Finland. Those liable to pay tax on natural gas are operators of natural gas networks, authorised warehouse keepers and the taxpayers referred to in the Excise Tax Act, as well as registered users who have acquired natural gas free of tax but have used it for taxable purposes. The excise duty on natural gas concerns both gaseous and liquefied natural gas.
Natural gas network operator refers to an operator engaged in natural gas network operation as defined in section 3 paragraph 6 of the Finnish Natural Gas Market Act. A natural gas network operator must register as a taxpayer with the customs authority in writing.
When natural gas is to be placed in storage, the warehouse keeper can obtain the licence of an authorised warehouse keeper.
A party who uses natural gas for tax-free purposes and who obtains the natural gas directly from a natural gas network or from a tax warehouse can apply for the status of a registered user of natural gas. Registered users must register separately for each place of business. Natural gas is to be used tax-free in all places of business which are to be registered. A registered user must cancel the registration upon the end of the tax-exempt use as referred to in section 21 subsection 1 of the Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels.
A registered user of natural gas cannot forward natural gas to other parties free of tax. A party other than a natural gas network operator or an authorised warehouse keeper can sell natural gas to a registered user, as long as the natural gas is transferred to the said registered user directly from a natural gas network or a tax warehouse.
According to section 21 subsection 1 of the Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels, natural gas is free of excise duty and strategic stockpile fee when it is
- used in industrial production as raw material or auxiliary or in direct first use in the production of goods
- used as an energy source in an oil refining process
- used in the production of electricity and in the start-up, shutdown or maintenance of separate production of electricity
- used in vessel traffic other than private leisure boating.
According to section 21 subsection 2 of the Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels, a natural gas network operator and an authorised warehouse keeper can deliver all natural gas to a registered user free of tax.
If users of natural gas other than authorised warehouse keepers or registered users engage in tax-free use of natural gas, the exemption from tax is implemented by refunding the tax directly to the user of natural gas upon application. A tax refund can be applied for once regarding the entire calendar year, or with two applications for the periods of January–June and July–December. A refund must be applied for within three years of the end of the application period.
Excise duty on fuel peat
When fuel peat is used for the production of heat, the user of fuel peat is liable to pay excise duty on the fuel peat used according to the tax rate table. If a volume smaller than 5 000 MWh per year of fuel peat is used for heat production, the user is not liable to pay tax on the fuel peat used.
Users of fuel peat are to register as taxpayers with the customs authority of their domicile. If a user of fuel peat is uncertain as to whether the tax liability limit of 5 000 MWh will be met, it is not necessary for the user to register immediately at the start of the year. In such cases, the user must register during the year, as soon as the tax liability limit is exceeded. The user must also indicate the taxable use of fuel peat which has occurred earlier in the year in the first tax declaration and pay for the said taxable use.
All peat used for heat production, including peat pellets and briquettes, shall be considered as fuel peat.
The tax on fuel peat is imposed for each tax period according to the regulations in force on the date when fuel peat was used for heat production.
Users of fuel peat must also provide the customs authority with a separate tax declaration for each individual facility. A calendar month is regarded as a tax period.
Tax refunds to energy-intensive companies
In cases where the excise duties paid by a company during an accounting period for electricity, coal, natural gas, tall oil as well as light and heavy fuel oil and biofuel oil, as well as the excise duties contained in the acquisition price of these products acquired by the company during this period exceed 0.5 per cent of the company’s value added during the accounting period, the company is entitled to apply, on the exceeding amount, for a refund of 85 per cent of the amount of the excise duties paid for the products or the excise duties contained in their acquisition price. Only the part exceeding 50 000 euros of the thus calculated tax refund is repaid. When assessing the amount of the paid excise duties, the company can include the excise duties contained in the acquired district heating and process steam.
The application for tax refund must be lodged with Finnish Tax Administration within six months after the end of the accounting period.
Impact of the state aid provisions on the tax category II of electricity, tax refunds to energy-intensive companies and reduction of carbon dioxide tax in combined production
The lower electricity tax category II, tax refunds to energy-intensive companies and reduction of carbon dioxide tax in combined production of electricity and heat are the state aids based on the Commission Regulation (EC) No 651/2014(General block exemption Regulation). These tax aids cannot be applied to undertakings in difficulty in a manner referred to in point (c) of paragraph 4 of Article 1 or which is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a previous Commission Decision declaring an aid illegal and incompatible with the common market referred to in point (a) of paragraph 4 of Article 1 of the General block exemption Regulation.
Fuels can be acquired exempt form excise duty in circumstances where the energy tax legislation provides for an exempt release. For example, the release of kerosene-type jet fuel for aviation use and the release of light and heavy fuel oil to certain types of vessels have been enacted to be exempt from tax. Also, companies operating as authorised warehouse keepers may acquire and store fuel exempt from tax also for their own use.
Where fuels taxable at acquisition were used for a tax-exempt purpose, the exemption is implemented through a subsequent refund to be paid to the user of the fuel upon application. The refund can be applied for at once for all fuel used during the entire calendar year, or twice a year for fuel used during January–June and July-December.
The refund is applied for from Finnish Tax Administration. A refund may be applied for at once for all fuels with the same application, but separate applications have to be lodged for each production plant. For the fuels used in vessel or air traffic, the refund is also applied for from Finnish Tax Administration.The application must be lodged within 3 years from the expiry of the application period. No refund is paid if the amount to be repaid is lower than 330 euros. This minimum amount is not, however, applicable to fishing vessels.
Application forms and more detailed instructions on how to apply for refunds are available on the Finnish Tax Administration website at www.vero.fi.
Excise Duty Information Service tel +358 29 497 154 (9–16.15)
Tax exemption regarding vessel fuels, also contains information on tax refunds in vessel traffic