December 8, 2007 - #83
New Financial Measures Adopted
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 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.
New Zip Code
Since Saint Barth has now evolved into an Overseas Collectivity, the zip code for the island will be modified. In theory, it’s goodbye to 97133, and hello to 97700, as of January 1, 2008. In reality, there are still a lot of things to be worked out and the post office has not yet approved the new zip code for the beginning of the New Year, so stay tuned. The part of social security numbers that indicated the location of a birth will also be transformed as of next year for future births in Saint Barth and Saint Martin.
On Thursday, November 29 at 3pm, an earthquake with the magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale (which goes up to 10) was felt on the island for more than 30 seconds. According to the volcanic and seismic observatory in Martinique, where three aftershocks were also felt, the earthquake was centered in the tectonic plates to the northeast of Martinique. Seismometers registered the earthquake for more than 20 minutes and counted 27 aftershocks in the next nine hours. There was no actual damage in Saint Barth; only a few sensitive people who are lightly perturbed.
Fuel Service Now Running At Commercial Dock
After a four-year break, the fuel pump at the commercial dock in Public is now back in service and run by the Collectivity. This pump is reserved for use by boats, and machinery used on the dock itself. The price of fuel is the same as at the other stations on the island: 1.26 euros per liter for lead-free gasoline and 1.6 euros per liter for diesel. Payment must be made in euros—either in cash or by check. The station is open from 7am-11am and 2pm-4pm on Monday, from 7am-11am and 2pm-4pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and from 7am-11am on Wednesday and Saturday.