The CNMC will demand from the Government “the necessary means” to ensure that banks do not pass on the tax to their customers.
- The payment of the first part of the extraordinary tax to banks will be made in the first quarter of 2023.
- The CNMC lacks the power and tools to ensure that the tax is not passed on to customers, but it will ask the Government for “the necessary means”.
- The Government has asked the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) to ensure that banks do not pass on the temporary tax to their customers. But the CNMC is not ready.
“The verification of the non-translation of the levy does not fall within the areas of supervision that the CNMC is entrusted with as an independent regulatory authority,” reads an internal statement from the agency. “In fact, the new mandate does not have a regulatory development that has adapted its internal regulations,” it continues, according to an extract published by El Confidencial.
“To this end, the Commission is going to request the necessary means that will allow it to carry out the new tasks assigned,” it concludes.
In the meantime, the CNMC is in talks with the Bank of Spain to “analyze the methodology and the relevant information that will allow it to comply with the assigned legal mandate,” according to El Confidencial.
The problem is that, as Business Insider Spain had previously reported, banks can use different ways to distribute the weight of the tax on the products they offer to their customers. This makes the CNMC’s task more demanding than what it had to do to monitor energy or gasoline prices.
Banks face punishment from the ECB if they do not pass on the tax
The tax could be spread over the price of loans, the conditions of contracts, commissions, the remuneration of deposits or the price of alternative products. And it could even already be weighing on their customers, especially since it was announced in July 2022.
The text of the tax, Law 38/2022, states that the amount or its prepayment will not be subject to economic repercussion, being considered a very serious infringement with a proportional fine of 150% of the amount passed on.
But the regulation conflicts with the European regulation issued by the European Banking Authority (EBA), which obliges institutions to pass on the costs to their customers. The European Central Bank (ECB), for its part, has already said that the levy could be difficult to implement, damage the capital positions of financial institutions and alter monetary policy.
Institutions believe it is “unfair” and are preparing to complain.
The 4.8% tax rate will be applied on interest margins and net commissions of the entities that, in 2019, obtained more than 800 million with their banking activity in Spain with the sum of both items. The group is formed by: Banco Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Bankinter, Unicaja, Ibercaja, Cajamar, Kutxabank, Abanca and BNP, the largest foreign group in Spain.
With the collection, the Government aims to raise more than 3,000 million euros between 2022 and 2023.
The entities believe that the new tax is guilty of double taxation and incompatibility with the regulations. They also consider that it is “unfair” that it is not applied on their profits and that only some of them pay.
“We absolutely agree that governments have to collect. So let’s pay taxes, but let everyone pay. The banks already pay 5 points more than other companies,” criticized the executive president of the Santander Group, Ana Botín, at the presentation of the bank’s results.
Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Unicaja and Sabadell have already confirmed that they are analyzing whether or not to appeal the tax. Bankinter, which has always been clearer in its position, has said that it will “appeal the day after paying it”.
Despite the statements made by the presidents and CEOs of the different entities, the Executive remains firm. After the presentation of its results and double-digit growth figures, the first vice-president and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, said that “it is a general clamor that they have to pull up their shoulders”.
“They have enough margin to pay the tax without passing it on to their customers,” she insists.