Superyacht industry opens dialogue with EU in Brussels (18 March 2013)

The inaugural Superyacht Fiscal Management Meeting, staged by the Superyacht Events team, took place on 7 March in Brussels – an apt location for a discussion of the pertinent tax issues affecting Europe’s major grounds, considering its role as European Union HQ. And in a possible first for the
superyacht industry, the event was attended by an EU Commission delegation to listen to the issues that were raised and begin the dialogue that needs to be opened between the industry and the federal government.
The Superyacht Group’s chairman, Martin H Redmayne, opened the day’s discussion, which convened 70 leading fiscal services professionals, by
saying that the industry needs “to know what Brussels wants, whilst they need to know what we want.”
The first session of the day pitted Redmayne with Thierry Voisin and Ince & Co.’s Freddy Desplanques to discuss the French conundrum. Of all the
European jurisdictions, France is the most receptive to the yachting industry – its third largest sector according to Voisin – and is keen to preserve its
For that reason the French tax authorities have been resistant to the imposition of federal tax legislation. EU court orders however, have forced the French hand, and France has been required to submit a list of proposals to identify requirements for ‘commercial vessel’ status. According to Voisin these include a LOA of 15m+, permanent crew on board, and [crucially] 70 per cent of the commercial activity being conducted on the high seas (12nm from shore).
The EU’s decision on whether to accept this is due on 21 March, which could prove to be a landmark date in the history of the French superyacht industry. According to Desplanques, after this and assuming the criteria are approved, the dispute will turn to how vessels can demonstrate their observance of 70 per cent outside territorial waters.
But, if approved, the rules will come into play at the end of June, according to the panel. And their warning to attendees was to process charter contracts now, including payment of fees to avoid having to meet the new requirements, as the law will not be applied retrospectively.
Following France was Ezio Vannucci, of Moore Rowland Associati, assessing the Italian tax situation, which proved to be as opaque as it is perceived. The reasons for Vannucci explained the recent fuel duty inspections in Sanremo, and as it transpired, it was not the yachts boarded that were the subject of the investigation. The company selling duty-free fuel to foreign-flagged yachts was in contravention of Italian customs law.
In fact he said, the Italian government had introduced article ‘577’ to accommodate the sale of duty-free fuel to non-EU vessels, which requires them to travel to a non-EU port upon purchase so that the fuel is deemed an ‘export’. This brings non-EU bunkering in Italy in line with that of European vessels. (SuperyachtNews, 7 March 2013)

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