Tourism minister Barceló, President Armengol and finance minister Cladera when announcing the tourist tax last year. | Joan Torres


Controversies collide
The past week was one during which two of the greatest tourism controversies collided. While one, the pursuit of tax to be declared for property rental, was said by the tax agency to have nothing to do with the legality or otherwise of the rental, a clear link could be seen with the other - the collection of the tourist tax and, the first bombshell last week, IVA (VAT) on top of it.

Tuesday's lead story was about the 10% VAT to be charged. This was fleshed out on Wednesday, the tax agency's director in the Balearics explaining that the VAT charge was in line with what already happens with Catalonia's tourist tax. The government, via Biel Barceló, the tourism minister, said that it was "illogical" for a state tax (IVA) to be applied to one raised by a regional community. Others, among them our readers, suggested that it was illogical to be charging a tax on a tax.

We drew attention to the fact that, although the VAT charge had been mentioned several months ago, the government had remained silent on the matter. Friday's Week in Tourism column wondered how the text of the legislation to introduce a tax (the tourist tax) could have made no mention of the further tax burden. The government had known about the VAT element "all along" but was only now mentioning it because it was in the process of communicating the ins and outs of the tourist tax to tour operators and others. It had to have known because of the VAT in Catalonia, something that the Catalonian government had been obliged to charge by national law from the moment its tourist tax was introduced at the end of 2012.

The information about the tourist tax, as we noted yesterday, was now officially being communicated to holidaymakers by tour operators. Jet2 has been the first off the mark, but as was observed yesterday, social media was now full of questions and confusion as a result of this communication. As had been clear for several weeks, by no means all tourists were aware of the tax coming into effect.

Tax agency pursuing rental income
Friday's lead concerned the tax agency and the message that it has included in this year's tax declaration campaign (which started on Wednesday). While some might consider it a bluff, the tax agency didn't appear to be bluffing. Its message to those with property that was being rented out left little doubt that the agency knows who has been renting property out. The income has to be declared.

The tax agency's "special representative" in the Balearics, as reported yesterday, made the point that the agency wasn't itself interested in the legal status of the property being rented out. But there will be other agencies who are, and the information clearly exists for them to scrutinise (assuming data protection rules permit this).

While all this was going on, the hoteliers said that they would be "fighting" the VAT charge, though it wasn't made clear how, and the regional government was announcing that there will be an information campaign about the tourist tax that will be aimed at residents: its cost will be in the region of 80,000 euros.

Government reshuffle
The government had other issues on its plate. In Wednesday's edition, we reported on the "insults" that had been flying in parliament regarding the resignation of Esperança Camps as minister for participation, transparency and culture. The Partido Popular said that the situation had arisen because of the "quotas" of ministers representing different parties and different islands. On Tuesday, we had observed that Camps had first been appointed because of the "unwritten quota system for ministerial positions".

The government's reshuffle, brought about by the resignation and the illness of Joan Boned, the transport minister, was then announced. President Armengol said that it would make the government "politically stronger". Readers responded by suggesting that the president was talking "a lot meaningless hot air" and "waffle".

A gruesome murder
A story which had broken last weekend concerned the gruesome murder of a German man in Cala Millor. His Russian wife was detained. Sunday's report suggested that the woman had attempted to cut one of his arm's off and feed it to their American Staffordshire dog. Our Tuesday report said that she had fed flesh to the dog. The court in Manacor ordered her to be kept in custody.