Households pay two-thirds of environmental taxes

© Hollandse Hoogte
According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch government collected 24.6 billion euros in environmental taxes and levies in 2015. With a share of almost two-thirds, Dutch households bear the heaviest burden. Manufacturers contribute over one-third.

Environmental taxes and levies by taxpayer

In 2015, the government collected slightly over 20 billion euros in environmental taxes and over 4.5 billion euros in environmental levies. Environmental taxes go into the public funds and are mainly linked to the ownership and use of cars or motorcycles as well as to energy consumption. Excise duties on petrol and other mineral oils provided the government with 7.9 billion euros in public revenue. Taxes on new passenger cars and other motor vehicles (bpm) accounted for 5.5 and 1.5 billion euros respectively. Energy taxes added 4.5 billion euros to the public budget.
Environmental levies are used to finance specific environmental services. They mainly consist of waste collection levies (1.8 billion euros), sewerage charges (1.5 billion) and waste water levies (1.2 billion).

Environmental taxes and levies by category, 2015

The polluter does not always pay most

The polluter-pay principle does not always apply. The bulk of energy sources in the Netherlands still comes from fossil fuels, the cause of greenhouse gas emissions. The government is attempting to cut back on these emissions, for example by imposing taxes on the consumption of electricity and natural gas. Manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but less than half of energy taxes is paid by the manufacturers. This means that households, which are associated with less than one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, pay more than 50 percent. This is partly due to the fact that energy tax rates are higher for small consumers such as households, and lower for large consumers such as manufacturers.

Environmental taxes and levies relatively high in the Netherlands

Among the government’s total tax revenues, environmental taxes and levies accounted for 15.7 percent in 2015, down for the fourth consecutive year. The percentage share was 17.1 in 2011. Although revenues from environmental taxes and levies have seen an annual increase over the past three years, total tax revenues have risen more steeply.

Comparison of environmental taxes and levies across Europe, 2014

Compared to other European countries, environmental taxes are relatively high in the Netherlands. In 2014, environmental taxes and levies constituted 9 percent of total tax revenues including social contributions. The average across the 28 EU member states was 6.4 percent. The percentage was highest in Slovenia (10.6 percent) and lowest in France (4.5 percent). In all EU countries, the bulk of environmental taxes consists of energy taxes. These constitute even more than 90 percent in the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Luxembourg.