By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE local and international nautical industry yesterday welcomed yesterday's news that the controversial Spanish matriculation tax on charter yachts has got as far as the European Commission but it appears that a wave of action is being taken to have the tax scrapped by individual British yachts owners as well.

Jonathan Syrett, the Managing Director of yacht broker Camper & Nicholsons in Palma and responsible for its operations across Spain, told the Bulletin yesterday that the news was “fantastic.” “We're delighted that the politicians have picked up the issue and taken it as far as the European Commission. It's a huge and important development which gives us all fighting the tax further ammunition,” said Syrett who has been key in the battle against the tax for years.

He also revealed that a group of as many as 30 British yacht owners, who have either withdrawn their vessels from the Balearics because of the tax or are sick and tired of paying the discriminatory levy, have got together in the UK to mount their own proceedings against the tax with the European Union and will be holding their first meeting before Christmas to discuss which path of action they are going to follow. Here, the Association of Balearic Nautical Businesses held a meeting yesterday morning to discuss the current situation and the Balearic Parliament will soon have to announce what it intends to do regarding the Majorcan Unionist Party's non-law proposal to scrap the tax which was submitted to parliament just over a month ago.

If parliament approves it, then it will be passed on to the Balearic government which, the UM hopes, will also agree to take the matter up with central government in Madrid.

However, should that fail, then the UM will be taking the matter directly to the European Commission in the early part of next year.
As the Bulletin reported yesterday, the UM, with the full cooperation of the Convergencia i Unio (CiU) party in Catalonia, is going to be asking the European Commission to explain why it is continuing to allow the Spanish government to enforce a unilateral and discriminatory tax.

The CiU European MP, Ramon Tremosa, is expected to pose the question soon.
According to data provided by the Spanish Tax Office, 19'514'303 euros of matriculation was collected in Spain in 2009.
The amount of 1'536'761 euros corresponded to the Balearics.
And, as far as the UM and opponents to the tax are concerned; “this represents a major contradiction between the effort and the capital invested on promoting and attracting high-quality tourism to the islands, whilst on the other hand, the imposed figure expels and redirects to other European destinations this important segment of tourism and industry that witnesses a continuous yearly increase in financial benefits and job positions generated by the marine industry, as is the case of France and Italy, to the detriment of the Spanish State and, in consequence, of our islands.” Syrett has put this to the head of the local tax office and explained that shelving the tax would generate over 600 million euros per year for Spain's charter industry and 80 percent of that would be here in the Balearics.

The matriculation tax was introduced in 1992 and yachts owned by Spanish nationals or residents and EU yachts used for commercial purposes in Spanish waters are required to pay the tax at a rate of 12 percent of the market value of the yacht.

The purchase and subsequent registration of a boat over 8 metres in length in Spain now attracts tax at 30 percent when matriculation is added following the increase in VAT on July 1.

No other country in Europe charges such high taxes on the purchase and commercial use of yachts.

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