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Ryanair to seek €10 million tax refund from France

Budget airline Ryanair will pursue a refund of €10 million in taxes plus interest and fines paid to French authorities after a recent decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on social insurance payments for international transport workers.03 May 2017

The CJEU, the EU's highest court, ruled in April on a case concerning German cruise ship operator A-Rosa Flussschiff and French social security authorities. The authorities had demanded €2m in unpaid social security contributions from A-Rosa employees.

If an employee has a valid A1 certificate showing which member state’s social security system he or she belongs to, "the competent institution of the member state in which an employee actually works must take account of the fact that that person is already subject to the social security legislation of the member state in which the undertaking employing him is established, and that institution cannot therefore subject the worker in question to its own social security system", the CJEU said.

Ryanair welcomed the decision, saying that to date France has refused to accept A1 certificates issued in Ireland.

"This ruling confirms that the French social insurance authorities have acted unlawfully over the past 10 years by double charging Ryanair, and its people, who were based temporarily in Marseille, but who had already fully paid their social insurance in Ireland in accordance with EU regulations. Following this ruling Ryanair will now pursue a full refund of the €10m (plus interest) it has paid in double taxes to the French State between 2006 to 2010 following French court rulings which completely ignored these EU rules and Irish A1 certificates," Ryanair said.

The ruling also "renders null and void" an attempt by the French state to pursue Ryanair for social insurance payments for pilots and cabin crews who were operating on temporary summer schedules from Marseille between 2011 and 2014, Ryanair said.

A similar situation exists in Italy, Ryanair said. Outstanding claims from 2006 to 2011 are being pursued by the Italian authorities for payment of Italian social insurance when these social contributions have already been paid by Ryanair’s pilots and cabin crew in Ireland.

"Ryanair’s lawyers will be writing to the Italian authorities to withdraw these claims as they now have no prospect of success given the clear ruling of the European courts," it said.