Move to extend matriculation tax exemption to all charter boats should have immediate impact

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A Spanish tax expert has said the recent decision by the Spanish government to exempt all charter boats from matriculation tax is the biggest thing to happen to the Spanish yachting sector in 20 years.

Alex Chumillas Amat, director of Tax Marine in Barcelona, said the extension of the tax exemption to charter boats over 15m will make Spain immediately more attractive to big-spending charter boats and have “a huge impact on the Spanish yachting sector”.

The hugely unpopular 12% tax was introduced in 1992 and combined with Spain’s 21% VAT rate, can lead to a tax burden of 33% on the sale of new private boats and the first registration of charter vessels.

The tax remains intact for the sale of new private boats over 8m to Spanish residents, but that has not stopped the Spanish marine industry celebrating this as a massive step forward.

As a measure of the damage matriculation tax has wreaked on an industry already battered by economic headwinds, Russell Currie from Fairline North Mallorca said the levy “almost wiped out the use of privately owned charter boats in Spain”.

The official announcement from Spain’s Council of Ministers came on 28 June and should herald an almost immediate uptick in charter business in boating hotspots like the Balearics.

It’s understood that while the government has set itself against the tax, its removal is not immediate, although the industry expects the exemption to be approved soon and in place for the 2014 season.

Currie from Fairline North Mallorca said: “This lifting of the tax means people can now upgrade or buy the boat they want and get some charter money back in their pockets helping towards boating enjoyment.”

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