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Dec 8, 2007

New Financial Measures Adopted

Conseil territorial Saint-Barthelemy During its November 13 meeting, the island’s territorial council voted 19 to 1 to accept a new financial code; the one negative vote was that of council member Benoît Chauvin. Over 100 people came out to hear the elected officials debate on the subject. Chauvin asked the most questions, taking time to ask for explanations of many different items, and bringing up the problem of examining the document without having the provisional budget presented by the Collectivity.

The financial code was on the agenda for a meeting on October 30, but was tabled so that the council members had more time to fine-tune the project, at the request of council member and lawyer, Karine Miot. In the meantime, Miot went to Paris with the council president, Bruno Magras, to meet François Seners, responsible for the requests of the council and editor of the document. On November 12, the council met behind closed doors and proposed 30 amendments, five of which were adopted in the plenary session the next day: important changes that complete the initial project. The final version of the text has 193 articles, while the initial version had only 100. The entire text can be seen on line at www.comstbarth.fr, the Collectivity’s official website.

Applicable as of January 1, 2008, the code calls for the collection of numerous indirect taxes that will affect residents and others that tax revenue generated by tourism. The notion of fiscal residence was finalized closer to the original idea of those crafting the COM, meaning that in order to be considered a fiscal resident of the island, a person must have lived on the island for five years, rather than five consecutive years without interruption.

The tourist tax of 5% per night is was least surprising, as the hotels have suggested that for several years. Already in application, taxes on fuel and electricity, as well as a tax for trash collection, will continue to be collected. Set at 4% since 1982, import duties will be raides to 5% in 2008. New is an annual fixed tax for all businesses, set at 300 euros for small companies (rather than 500 as suggested in the first draft), and increased by 100 euros per employee with a ceiling of 5,000 euros. A capital gains tax on real estate has been fixed at 25% of the profit realized. Donations of real estate among immediate family members are Conseil territorial Saint-Barthelemy not taxed on the condition that the beneficiaries hold on to the property for at least 10 years. If not, they will be subject to a 25% tax on the amount over the estimated value of the gift. When the donations are not among family members, they are taxed at 40%. There is also a new tax on vehicles according to their horsepower: 30 euros/year for scooters less than 50cc, and up to 2000 euros/year for any car over 15CV (fiscal horsepower, basis on which a car is taxed annually in France). However, members of the association for retired people in Saint Barth were relieved to learn that the council voted to add to article 3 that notes that pensions and other retirement benefits that go to a resident of the island are not subject to taxation.

The members of the territorial council also deliberated that residents are not subject to the general tax code in France.

Cécile Lucot


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