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Malta offers great diving, deep harbors

Malta offers great diving, deep harbors

 

 

Malta is a southern European island country comprising an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles (80 km) south of Italy, 176 miles (284 km) east of Tunisia, and 207 miles (333 km) north of Libya. The country covers just over 122 square miles (316 square kilometers) and has a population of just under 450,000, making it one of the world’s most densely populated countries.

The capital is Valletta, which, at 0.8 square kilometers, is the smallest national capital in the European Union.

Malta’s location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004. In 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including three Unesco World Heritage Sites, and seven Megalithic temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. If old churches are of interest, Malta has 365 of the most exquisite churches, one for each day of the year.

Malta has three large natural harbors on its main island:

  • The Grand Harbor at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbor since Roman times. It has several extensive docks and wharves, a cruise liner terminal, as well as a number of marinas. Grand Harbor Marina accommodates the largest yachts. It also has a terminal that serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo and Catania in Sicily.
  • Marsamxett Harbor on the western side of Valletta has a number of yacht marinas, Manoel Island Yacht Marina being the largest, able to accommodate yachts to 80m. It is centrally located in Gzira so chandlery shops, shopping malls, supermarkets and tourist services are all accessible within a short walking distance. In the vicinity, one also find numerous restaurants, bars and convenience shops.
  • Marsaxlokk Harbor (Malta Freeport) at Birżebbuġa on the southeastern side of Malta, is the island’s main cargo terminal. Malta Freeport is the 11th busiest container port in Europe and 46th busiest in the world.

There are also two manmade harbors that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbor on Malta and Mġarr Harbor on Gozo. There is a marina in Mgarr that accommodates smaller yachts to about 22m.

Depths are not an issue in and around Malta. Anchoring is difficult, though, as depths reach 40m and more just 4.5m from shore.

Malta is a huge dive destination for Europeans. There are many artificial reefs made by sunken ships and numerous cave dive sites. Although the waters are extremely clear, do not expect as much coral and sea life as one would see in the Caribbean. Many seaside resorts in crystal clear water-bays surround the islands.

The food generally has an Italian influence and in most places, one can order in Italian language, as it is the third unofficial language, after the official languages of Maltese and English.

Fishing is not one of the islands’ advantages, as we found out on our research. Most fresh fish is from multiple floating farms strategically placed around the islands. Beware of them as they are moved around and may cause navigation hazards.

There are plenty of other things to do and one should tour all three major Islands, as each has different things to offer.

Visitors total about 1.5 million a year, so traffic can be unpleasant. Local transportation, on the other hand, is organized and affordable.

Tax Guide to Leasing of Yachts

Your Guide to Leasing of Yachts

Where leasing arrangements of yachts do not fall within the scope of Legal Notice 369 of 2005 and where the aforesaid lease is deemed by the Commissioner of VAT to be in accordance with guidelines issued by the VAT department from time to time, the Inland Revenue Department has decided that in such special case, the following tax treatment is to be adopted for each year for the duration of the lease:

  1. the lessor is charged to tax only on the annual finance charge, namely the difference between the total lease payments less the capital element divided by the number of years of the lease;
  2. the lessee is allowed a deduction in respect of the (i) the finance charge; (ii) maintenance; (iii) repairs; and (iv) insurance;
  3. the lessee is allowed capital allowances in respect of the yacht and the parties may not opt to shift the burden of wear and tear onto the lessor;
  4. where the lessee exercises an option to purchase the yacht on the termination of the lease, the purchase price received by the lessor shall be considered to be of a capital nature and no tax thereon shall be payable by the lessor.

Malta owes much of its maritime history to its strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean, its natural harbours and its extensive range of maritime services including excellent yachting berthing, repair and servicing facilities. Malta offers interesting tax planning opportunities for operators and owners of commercial yachts and owners of pleasure yachts.

Commercial yachts
It is possible to register eligible yachts in the Maltese Commercial Yacht Register. Registration in this type of register allows the operation of the yacht on a commercial basis in international waters including chartering. Registration under the Commercial Register may lead to an exemption from income tax on profits from commercial yacht operations, an exemption from capital gains tax on the transfer of shares in a commercial yacht-owning company and VAT exemptions on:
• importation and acquisition /sale of yachts used for commercial purposes; and
• hiring, leasing and chartering
• repairs, refits, maintenance and related services

VAT reduction on Yacht Finance Leasing
Where a yacht is not registered in the Commercial Register, either because the owner does not wish to register an eligible vessel commercially or because the vessel is not eligible for such registration, the acquisition of importation of a yacht into the EU will, in general, be subject to VAT in the member state of importation or acquisition.
Maltese VAT legislation contains special rules based on the EU VAT Directive dealing with finance leasing of yachts. These rules are attractive for yacht owners who use Malta as a base for the importation or purchase/acquisition of a new yacht into or within the EU. Finance leasing is a contract which provides for the lease of a yacht by the lessor to the lessee in return for a fee and also provides for an option by the lessee to purchase the yacht at the end of the lease period at a price which is calculated as a percentage of the value of the vessel.
A yacht under a finance leasing transaction is treated as used partly in EU waters (including Maltese waters) and partly outside EU waters and consequently, only the portion of lease payments that is attributable to the use of the yacht in EU waters is subject to Maltese (EU) VAT. In view of the difficulty in calculating the exact time spent in EU and non-EU waters, the rules provide for a simplified deemed percentage of the lease that is attributable to the use of the yacht in EU waters. These percentages are based on the length of the yacht and propulsion method.

Conditions

In order to qualify for the above reductions in VAT, the rules prescribe a number of conditions, mainly :
• the lessor must be a Maltese limited liability company and registered for VAT in Malta
• the Lease agreement must be for a period not exceeding 3 years
• the contract must provide for an option of the lessee to purchase the yacht at the end of the lease
at a percentage of the value of the yacht – the price payable upon the exercise of the option to
purchase the yacht is taxable at the standard rate of 18%
• the finance lease agreement and the value of the yacht must be approved by the VAT Department prior to the commencement of the finance lease.
This opportunity is of interest to owners or prospective buyers of yachts on which no EU has been paid and is open to new and second-hand yachts.

How can we be of help?
We can assist yacht owners or operators by –
• identifying an optimum VAT structure for the intended acquisition or operation of the yacht in
question (commercial yacht or private yacht)
• obtaining the required VAT clearances
• assistance in the corporate set-up and registration of the yacht under the Maltese flag (where
required )
• providing ongoing and annual yacht registration maintenance services and support
• handling of VAT payments and back-office support