ECONOMY

Shipowners to pay voluntary tax depending on vessel tonnage

Greek shipowners have revived the idea of paying a voluntary tax through the tonnage tax model in order to bolster their contribution to public revenues.

The Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) informed its members earlier this week that following contacts with the government an agreement has been reached for an extraordinary voluntary contribution over the next three years. This concerns the payment by every ship (whether bearing a Greek or foreign flag) of an additional tax that is proportionate to what the law provides for the tonnage tax and applies to Greek-flagged vessels.

On a practical level this means the voluntary doubling of the tonnage tax for ships, as every Greek-owned shipping company will pay a double contribution for its vessels, whether they fly a Greek or a foreign flag.

The measure would mean that if a shipowner with a Greek-flagged vessel has paid 20,000 euros per year until today, with the new agreement he will, voluntarily, pay 40,000 euros on an annual basis for the next three years.

The state is already taxing ships of Greek ownership that fly a foreign flag through the tonnage tax system. This means that shipowners who did not have to pay any taxes up until 2012 will now have to pay the difference of the amount they would have had to pay had their ship raised the Greek flag minus the amount they already pay to foreign registers – in most cases this concerns flags of convenience that entail very low taxation for shipowners.

EEE sources say that it is impossible to estimate what amount of additional revenues will enter state coffers through the voluntary tax, but consider far too conservative the estimate of the Finance Ministry for an extra 140 million euros per year.