While fuel taxation and social security contributions for seafarers residing in France were in the spotlight during the 2017 nautical season, luxury yachting is back in the spotlight with the 2018 budget vote. An amendment by the majority provides for the introduction of a tax on yachts over 30 m and luxury cars, offsetting the abolition of the Solidarity Tax on Fortune. In an interview published in Ouest-France on 8 October 2017, Richard Ferrand, President of the La République En Marche group in the National Assembly, defined the outlines of the project. Will have to pay "French residents who own boats over 30 meters, or who use them through commercial companies, even if they fly a foreign flag or are located outside France. The tax will range from ?30,000 to ?200,000 per year, depending on the length and power of the yacht."
While yachting professionals in the Mediterranean had just won their case on the issue of seafarers' contributions, many of them take a negative view of the arrival of this new tax. However, it will not affect foreign shipowners, who represent the majority of yachts sailing on the French Riviera.
10 M ? for the SNSM
In his interview, Richard Ferrand estimates that the annual funds obtained thanks to the yacht tax amount to ?10 million. He proposes to transfer them in full to SNSM to ensure safety at sea. Xavier de La Gorce, President of the Société Nationale des Sauveteurs en Mer, was obviously delighted by the announcement, as he told Ouest France. "That's good news. Finally, SNSM's concerns about the sustainability of its economic model are taken into account. The State has become aware of its responsibilities to create the conditions for a successful national rescue." It should be recalled that the association's annual budget is ?28 million, of which only 20% is covered by public, local and national funds. The State currently pays only 8% of the total.
As professionals and users of the sea, we care as much about the industrial players as we do about the safety of boaters and sailors. As the tax only affects ships owned by French taxpayers, i.e. a very small minority of yachts over 30 metres in length that use French ports and shipyards, it should have only a minor impact on the domestic luxury yachting industry. On the other hand, since this levy is based on a limited fleet, the overall budget envisaged by Mr Ferrand may vary abruptly and rapidly as the fleet exits. While Mr. De La Gorce is looking forward to long-term financing, after having to negotiate additional subsidies from the State every year, one may wonder what would happen if the number of yacht owners were to fall. Does the tax come in addition to the current financing? What visibility can SNSM have if it depends only on the tax? Is the direct allocation of a tax to a beneficiary a solution, or should the SNSM remain a subject of national solidarity for all, without pitting large yachts against small boaters?
While waiting for the confirmation of the effective passage of the law, here are some topics of reflection that we are launching to you...