Reflection on Insurance Premium Tax Rate Increases – What’s Next for Europe?

Beverleigh Gunner
May 10, 2021

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when new taxes or tax rate increases will happen. Covid-19 has impacted almost everything, including a massive deficit in the economy. Many banks have applied negative interest and governments have put funding in place to aid recovery. It’s highly likely that tax authorities will be looking at ways to bring in additional funding, including Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) rate increases.

Europe’s IPT rate increases

Some of the steepest increases across Europe can be recognised not as an instant from one rate to another but a gradual incline.

The Dutch IPT regime is one of the highest rates across Europe, currently at 21%. Until 2008, the IPT rate was 7% and raised in various stages, finally settling at 21% in 2013. An increase of 14% in a five-year period!

Why the sudden rate increase? Was it because the Dutch tax authorities realised theirs was one of the lowest rates in Europe? Was it due to the economic climate at the time to gain extra revenue? Or was it because tax authorities were beginning to realise IPT was becoming a more recognised tax?

The Netherland’s isn’t the only country to have experienced a dramatic IPT rate increase over a short period of time.

HMRC, the UK tax authority, has also taken the opportunity to implement more rigorous increases, especially with their standard rate. In 2011, the rate increased to 6%, increasing at various intervals until stabilising at 12% in 2017. The rate doubled in a five-year period!

The similarity between the two territories and the way they have increased their rates is uncanny. The five-year structure of rate changes either by 1 or 2%, ultimately reaching much higher rates than initially expected in the market. Looking back at the economy during the time of the increase, Europe was beginning to recover from a recession that hit most territories hard with rising interest rates on loans and mortgages and increased unemployment.

There are changes in the market now that could influence IPT rates. Many insurance companies have increased the scope of insurances offered. Classes of business are more varied and premiums quoted are higher. Emphasis is on ensuring the invoicing is correct with the insurer versus carefully considering insured taxes.

What’s Next?

Many territories now require more granular detail for submissions. Will this trigger more audits? Will it cause more tax authorities to analyse this information to enforce their penalty regimes? Or will there be a number of rate increases across the board? Increases could begin at 1 or 2% and follow the trend of five years as set out above. Either way, there is a financial gap which will need to be filled.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the latest Insurance Premium Tax rate updates to see how tax authorities respond to this current economic climate.

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Author

Beverleigh Gunner

As a Compliance Services Manager, Beverleigh leads the General Insurers Managed Service team. Part of her role is ensuring that the ongoing compliance for over 140 clients is met with various tax authorities. Beverleigh has a depth of IPT and insurance experience having worked at Sovos in a number of roles since 2007.
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