VAT or to Transfer Tax in the purchase of a vessel in Spain by non residents?
Without prejudice of the Matriculation Tax the purchase in Spain by a non entrepreneurial, that is, a private person may trigger VAT or Transfer Tax. We leave the Matriculation Tax out of scope of this article due to its importance itself which we will see in former months.
a) VAT: The acquisition of a pleasure craft from a business or entrepreneurial (VAT taxable person) will generate in general the obligation to pay the Value Added Tax, at the 21%.
Business or Entrepreneur
If the vendor is business or entrepreneur from another the European Union Member State ( that is a EU VAT recording) and also the purchaser in Spain business or entrepreneur ( for example charter company) , we will have a zero rated intra-EC acquisition with reverse charge , no matter if it is a new or second hand vessel.
If buyer is a private individual resident in Spain for tax purposes and purchases a new boat from an EU business or entrepreneurial , we are also faced with an intra-EC acquisition that will accrue in Spain and should be filed by the purchaser through model 309 to be paid – here there is no reverse charge as the purchaser is not VAT taxable person – to the Spanish Tax Authority 30 days after the acquisition.
Lastly, if the seller is a resident in a third country (non EU) and the buyer is resident in Spain for tax purposes , we are in the presence of an import to be dispatched and cleared at the Spanish Customs – if the vessel arrives to Spain’s waters firstly – through the correspondent Single Administrative Document (SAD or DUA in Spanish) together with the payment of the 21% Import VAT (plus 1.7% custom duty by small vessels if they are under 7.5 m LOA).
b) Transfer Tax: Transfer Tax is accrued in the sale of used boats from individuals non entrepreneurial (or business and entrepreneurial that have not deducted VAT on acquisition and thus acquired as final consumers for VAT purposes) provided that the purchaser has Spanish tax residence or the boat is usually in Spanish territory
However if the purchaser is not Spanish Tax resident and after the acquisition does not register the change of ownership in Spanish Ship´s Registry but changes flag – deletion in the Spanish Ship´s Registry and new registration in another jurisdiction – even though the liability still exists the tax exposure is quite limited.
This obligation for non residents has been expressly recognized in a binding Clarification Letter from the Spanish Tax General Direction (“Dirección General de Tributos”) CV 1764-02from 02/12/2002. That is why in those cases the contract must be carefully drafted with regards of the place of the delivery of the vessel.
Solicitor and Tax Advisor
(+34 627 413 201
Website – IURISNAUTIC
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