Yachting, VAT at 10% - the perfect Italian mess

Genoa - The tax advantage will only be valid in some regions of Italy. Operators’ anger: “Unbelievable confusion”.

di Matteo Dell’Antico

Genoa - The 10% VAT has been stopped in small tourist marinas. This was the result of a Constitutional Court ruling, which upheld the appeal lodged by the Region of Campania against the regulation established by the government in 2014, and confirmed in the latest financial law of 2016 with the goal of revitalising yacht tourism. It was a blow to the sector - the most important industry associations in the sector are making their voices heard - but most of all it is a blood-letting for the hundreds of sport yachters who will be docking in Italian tourist ports, since a much higher VAT will once again be charged at the docks, 22% to be exact. In particular, the Region of Campania lodged a constitutional plea, contesting that the State, in deciding to equate so-called “marina resorts” with open-air reception areas, violated the principle of “loyal cooperation” with the Regions, which have expertise in matters of tourism. “I find it incomprehensible that a matter of buildings should take precedence over the future of companies and workers,” UCINA President Carla Demaria commented. She added, “The State established a simple framework rule, as demonstrated by the regions, which legislated on the subject in detail. The Assomarinas and Assonat associations were on the same wavelength, saying that “it is really and truly a joke.”

After the Court’s decision, the only areas in Italy where the 10% VAT can still be applied are Emilia Romagna, Liguria and Friuli Venezia Giulia, the areas whose local authorities issued specific regulations on the subject of “marina resorts”. In the meantime, several yachting operators, after being astonished by the appeal lodged by the Region of Campania, began to be concerned, even in areas where the value added tax will remain at 10%. Giorgio Casareto, the director of Savona’s Marina di Varazze facility, explained, “After this decision, there is serious concern about what could happen in the days ahead. Mainly because many are wondering whether things will soon change in the regions which have not yet been affected by the Court’s decision.” Casareto explained that the real problem is typically an Italian defect: the rules change quickly and it is difficult to be certain about even a few things. The question that is now coming up almost spontaneously: what should we, as operators, do now?” In the Constitutional Court’s decision annulling the 10% VAT, there is a clear reference to the violation of the principle of cooperation between the State and the Regions, since the determination of the applicative scope of the regulation was entrusted to the Ministry of Infrastructure alone. Lastly, there is also a definition of unlawfulness at the European Community level: the “marina resorts” might not, in fact, fall into the category of reception structures for which the European Directive permits the application of the reduced rate of taxation.