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EU warns Cyprus, Greece and Malta over low taxes on yachts

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - The European Commission launched legal action against Cyprus, Greece and Malta on Thursday for not levying enough value added tax (VAT) on yachts.

The issue of tax evasion in the yacht sector gathered public attention after the publication of the Paradise Papers last year, comprising 13.4 million confidential records showing how high-profile individuals concealed assets and evaded taxes.

The commission sent official letters of notification to the three countries, calling on them to bring their VAT rules on yachts in line with EU laws.

The commission said that Cyprus, Greece and Malta have tax schemes that reduce the VAT base for the lease of yachts by reducing the estimate of how much time the boats spend on EU waters, which in turn decides the applicable tax rate.

Cyprus and Malta also allow incorrect taxation through the practice of "lease-purchase," because leasing a yacht is taxed as a service and not as buying a good.

"We cannot allow this type of favourable tax treatment granted to private boats, which also distorts competition in the maritime sector," said European Taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. "Such practices violate EU law and must come to an end."

The countries now have two months to respond to the commission.

If the countries decide not to cooperate even after several requests by the commission, the cases can be referred to the European Court of Justice, which can impose fines for the violations.


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