Saturday, March 04, 2017

Appealing Against The Tourist Tax

It may have been forgotten that the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation successfully lodged an appeal for there to be judicial review of the tourist tax; it was some months ago that this was done, after all.

It was unclear what grounds the federation felt it had for demanding a review, in particular given the fact that it had done so in 2001 in respect of the old ecotax and failed. Well, these grounds are now clearer. They include what the federation maintains is "disguised discrimination" against tourists. By these they are referring to the fact that tourists who come to the Balearics pay a tax because of the impact they have on the environment. Residents of the Balearics, who also have to pay the tax, do not pay the tax for the same reason because they are already here.

The federation adds that there is further discrimination because under two per cent of overnight stays in accommodation are those of residents. The tax is therefore directed at the travelling tourist.

The argument, one has to think, seems a bit thin; doesn't a tourist tax presuppose a travelling tourist? But the hoteliers believe that this disguised discrimination is sufficient to have the tax scrapped because it goes against European rules. The federation also takes the environmental angle in arguing that the tax discriminates against accommodation by not being applied to non-hotel tourist activities, such as restaurants. Moreover, the method of estimation for its payment places the burden not on tourists but on the accommodation, e.g. hotels.

The federation's case is, it has to be said, pretty complex, and it has provoked the scorn of Alberto Jarabo of Podemos. Earlier this week he described the hoteliers' appeal as being a "moral perversion" and one advanced by "fraudsters" without legitimacy to take a "legitimate and democratic government" to court.

While this legal row has been going on, the town halls have been following up on their displeasure at having been excluded from the distribution of tourist tax revenue. Their association, Felib, is concerned that future distributions won't be much better. It wants yet another committee to be formed in order to clarify what the town halls can expect in future. It is looking for some form of fixed percentage of revenue and has criticised the way in which priorities for spending the revenue raised last year were shifted.

Which is true, but then the government did say that it would be prioritising water projects that weren't specifically included in its list of "purposes" for the way in which the revenue would be spent. The first twelve million euros of the thirty million total revenue raised last year have been transferred to the government's water agency for seven projects.

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