Nautical leasing chaos. The Internal Revenue Service gets in the way.


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For now, Italian nautical leasing with subsidized VAT loses the first round against other European countries that adopt advantageous formulas to reduce value-added tax on boats purchased with this purchase formula.

We Italians, to the best of our knowledge, are the only ones who have changed the regulations to comply with the calls of the Union. But absurdly so, as we shall see shortly.

The other Mediterranean countries involved in the same EU procedure for now have turned a deaf ear. France, which has subsidized leasing similar to ours, Greece, which has imaginatively shifted its territorial waters, Croatia, which applies subsidized VAT like that of hotels, accomplices of Covid, have so far been careful not to change their favorable and questionable VAT regime as much if not more than ours.

Nautical leasing chaos: the action of the Internal Revenue Service

Here is what happened. On Oct. 30, the Internal Revenue Service, responding to the infringement procedure imposed on Italy in which the European Union called for the elimination of flat-rate VAT reduction facilities, issued a contradictory measure that is difficult to implement.

The Internal Revenue Service says that in order to take advantage of the VAT benefits of nautical leasing, the person responsible is the one who uses the boat, not the owner (the leasing company), who upon request must provide evidence of having sailed outside EU waters, which is the reason the VAT discount is obtained.

Here is what should be done now

In an attempt to clarify the absurd system of proof by which a user of a boat, purchased under an Italian lease, would have to prove that he or she had sailed out of EU waters, the Internal Revenue Service went on the technical. Asking for crazy things.

Here’s what it requires: “evidence chosen from the following means must be provided: the A.I.S. data if in use; two digital photographs of the ship’s point for each week of sailing; documentation proving the mooring of the recreational unit outside the Union; documentation of purchases of goods and services related to the use of the unit from commercial establishments located outside the Union.”

No retroactivity for contracts already signed

And it still specifies-unfortunately-that Italian Nautical Leasing contracts entered into before October 30, 2020 do not fall under this new regulation.

As usual, in the Italian way, we entangle the skein in search of compromise solutions that can be challenged.

Everything remains as before, but…

The Internal Revenue Service says, in practice, the Italian nautical leasing VAT regime remains as it is, just sign the contract. But there remains the sword of Damocles of the burden of proof, as the agency says: “including on the basis of the declaration made by the user of the unit itself” but it must be supported by specific means of proof (those of ship points, invoices, AIS points to be kept on file and upon request shown to the appropriate authorities (which ones?).

Why not equate the facility with tourism facilities?

Wouldn’t it have been better to stall the European Community and carry out a serious reform of nautical leasing, one that maintains the same facilitation benefits, which by the way other European countries also use, without going forward into an unenforceable “goat and cabbage saving” measure subject to possible civil lawsuits involving the Internal Revenue Service, boat user (de facto owner) and owner (leasing company)?

Why not change the system and instead of trying to ideally prove that you have sailed out of EU waters, consider equalizing VAT benefits with those adopted in tourism. What is boating if not a tourist activity?

We await concrete actions from government and industry entrants. Lest we Italians always be accused of circumventing regulations. With some reason this time.



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