Saturday, December 12, 2015

Yet More On Tourist Taxes

The regional government has asked the citizens how they would prefer the sustainable tourism tax to be spent. An online poll revealed an 80% preference for environmental protection and conservation, a result which comes as no surprise. Depending on which options the citizens are presented with, then the citizens - more often than not - will reply with an answer that might have been hoped for: among certain elements of the government at any rate.

Were the government to follow this preference, then the tax would become an eco-tax, but as we have been informed, by the finance minister, it is not an eco-tax: that was something they did thirteen years ago. This tax is different. And the government still isn't clear as to how it intends spending it.

One person who has made his views clear is the prime minister. Mariano Rajoy is not in favour of eco-taxes or other taxes directed at tourists. As pointed out previously, such a view avoids the fact that he and his government increased taxes - indirect ones - aimed at tourists: the tourist rate of IVA (VAT). This was, in a sense, a national tourist tax, but of course no one ever referred to it as such.

It isn't totally beyond the bounds of possibility that a new national government might pursue a national tax, though this would almost certainly require Podemos being at the centre of the next government's policy-making, which it may not be. Such a move would be interesting in that it could well end up being challenged in law because of regions' statutory rights over tourism policy. Hypothetical though this might be, tourist taxes are being talked up (or down) in different parts of the country. The Canaries had dismissed a tax, but the idea still keeps cropping up. The city of Seville is said to be looking at one. The Valencia region may yet introduce one.

In other tax developments, the Més lead candidate for Congress, Antoni Verger, has been speaking again about his party's wishes for air travel, a component of which would be local management of airports through which, he believes, it would be possible to reduce the airports' taxes on airlines, i.e. the charges for landing rights and handling. Rather more significant, though, is the powerful lobby of Europe's five largest airline concerns. Air France-KLM, IAG, the Lufthansa Group, Ryanair and easyJet are calling on the European Commission to act "immediately" in taking concrete measures to reduce airport taxes. They argue that, while these charges have increased by an average of two-thirds in the past ten years, the supply side (i.e. the airlines) has been lowering its charges, in other words its ticket prices.

The airlines' lobby complains about "airport monopolies on a grand scale", which is something that can be applied to Aena, and these leading airlines believe that a mandated lowering of taxes would create employment and contribute to general economic growth. One hesitates to suggest that the lobby's intervention will lead to significant cuts, as there is the Spanish example to bear in mind: the National Competition Commission has forced a reduction in taxes for next year, but it is certainly not great. But the fact that the matter has been placed on the Brussels agenda might result in something more substantial, which could only be of benefit locally in Mallorca, where Palma has the third highest (all year) charges in the country.

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