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The confusion over yacht charter taxes in the EU

by Lee Mylchreest on 2 Jul 2013
It’s hard to work out what will be happening next week to the price for having fun in the EU SW
It's very hard to keep up with what you'll be paying to charter a yacht in Europe these days. It's all about taxes. Croatia's charges have been altered by her entry into the EU on 1st July, yachts have been fleeing from Italy to places like Montenegro because of the high Italian charges, France has just agreed to levy VAT on yacht charters and now Spain has made a change of their own - for the better.

The Spanish marine trade association, ANEN, has just announced that the Council of Ministers of Spain has done away with the matriculation tax on leisure boats operating for charter.

Until now, leisure boats used for charter used to pay up to 33 per cent in tax: a 12 per cent registration tax (for boats over 15 meters in length) coupled with 21 per cent VAT.

The 'tax package' announced today, comprises the elimination of the 12 per cent tax on leisure boats or nautical sport craft, new or used, dedicated exclusively to charter activities and above 15 meters in length. It follows the recent announcement that France was to introduce VAT into charter. Spain has traditionally been the only country in the region to apply not only VAT but also this special registration levy.

'The involvement and support that we have received the past few years from Spanish Merchant Marine, has been fundamental in the achievement of this change,' said Carlos Sanlorenzo, ANEN’s secretary general. 'With the assistance of the current team managed by Rafael Rodriguez Valero, the Tax Ministry has approved the elimination of matriculation tax for nautical charter, hence understanding that not to penalize the activity will bring forward greater benefits for the economy beyond the collection of a tax,' Sanlorenzo added.

ANEN explains in a statement that the matriculation tax will still be applied to pleasure boats over 8 meters intended for private use, however, as a result of the changes applied to the charter sector 'we understand that undoubtedly it will be a reference to continue modifying taxation in our industry and adapt our regulation to that of our neighbouring countries'.

In Spain, the recreational boating industry totals 107,434 (direct and indirect) employments and amounts to 5,690 million euros in net added value. The Spanish charter industry is primarily based in the Balearics. The 12 per cent registration tax has traditionally acted as a deterrent for international charter players to operate non-Spanish fleets in Spanish waters; the move is expected to open business opportunities in the larger (15m-plus) charter vessel segment.
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