St. Barths Online


Dec 17, 2003

The Overseas Collectivity of St. Barthélemy - PART III



Yes, Yes Yes!…they bellowed in unison by over 95% of the vote. On December 7, 2003, a historical popular consultation occurred in which the population of St. Barthelemy was asked whether they would like to evolve semi-autonomously pursuant to Article 74 of the Constitution. The Commune of Guadeloupe decided by a crushing vote, that yes, its residents want the island to become an Overseas Collectivity of France. This means, as discussed in my first article of June 2003, that St. Barthelemy will become financially and administratively independent from Guadeloupe, to whom the island has been attached as a commune for the past 60 years.

Obviously, the change cannot occur overnight and now that the population has voted positively, it is necessary to establish what is referred to as an “orientation law” under which the island will operate. Part of that law will necessarily include the funding for the following powers, which will now belong to the Overseas Collectivity of St. Barthelemy:

  • Creation, application and collection of duties and taxes- the tax structure of the Collectivity replacing the National rules currently applicable relating to the same.
  • Regulation regarding prices market regulations and the repression of fraud;
  • Issues of zoning, building, management of public property, all subject to the provisions of the Code of Urbanism.
  • Traffic Circulation, transportation and regulations applicable to vehicle rental companies;
  • Management of public roads and registration of vehicles along with the management of the airport and port infrastructures;
  • Registration of boats, airline connections with other islands and places, with the exception of the air traffic between St. Barthelemy and St. Martin;
  • Water, energy and garbage;
  • Postal and Telephone organization and setting of rates;
  • Customs regulation-Tobacco sales;
  • The management of social security, retirement and other labor issues;
  • Organization and management of schools and school transportation;
  • Management of Sportive and Cultural matters of territorial and regional interest;
  • Definition of policy relating to tourism;
  • Environmental Protection and matters of public domain as to property belonging to persons and to the Collectivity and with the approval of France, authorizations of occupancy of property belonging to the State;
  • Operational Plans regarding natural catastrophes and civil security;
  • The delivery of Long Term Visas in the Collectivity of St. Barthelemy;
  • Employment regulations regarding foreign workers.
The budget of the Collectivity shall be determined based on a fiscal year between January 1 to December 31, and shall include receipts, expenses and investments.

Although many American citizens appear very concerned that there will be property and other taxes levied upon them, it is important to note that at this time, property taxes are not viewed as a source of funding. It must be remembered that certain taxes, some of which are in fact indirect in nature, are and will continue to be received. Some new taxes may be levied. The most obvious taxes to be applied are the following:

Port Duty - All merchandise, whether new or used, brought to the island for use on the island is currently the subject of a 4% duty, based on its value. The same may in fact be increased to 5%, which is more likely than not.

Tourism Tax - Discussion has been made regarding a tourist tax to be paid at the time of departure from the airport

Rental Tax - There has also been discussion of the levy of a tax equivalent to 5% of the gross rental amounts for all persons renting their properties on a weekly basis. This tax would conversely, not be applicable to yearly rentals, which house island residents working and/or living on the island.

Garbage Tax - At this time a garbage tax is paid in the sum of 80 euros per year. The garage tax will remain and may increase in the future, if necessary.

Transfer Taxes - All persons purchasing real estate in St. Barthelemy are familiar with the notion of the payment of what is globally referred to as a “transfer tax”. The rate depends on several things, including whether the property is developed or not, and if not whether the same will be developed in the near future, whether the property was developed for a period exceeding five years, etc. The transfer taxes, which in fact include both the taxes associated with the transfer and the Notaire’s statutory fees, will continue to be applied. The big difference is that the bulk of the income generated from such transfers will in fact remain on the island of St. Barthelemy as opposed to being paid to Guadeloupe, where it has to this date, been paid. The income to be received by the island of St. Barthelemy, from the transfer taxes, is in fact quite considerable and should considerably assist the island face its budgetary needs.

Capital Gains Taxes - The issue of capital gains taxes has been the subject of many questions by Americans owning property on the island of Saint Barthelemy. In fact, at this time, we are at the crossroads of the issue of capital gains imposition and taxation.
For a number of years now, foreign citizens of English and American nationalities as well as other nationalities have purchased real estate on the island of St. Barthelemy through an SCI (Societe Civil Immobiliere), which is a real estate holding corporation. This kind of corporation is civil in nature as opposed to commercial and essentially engages in acts relating to real estate such as the lease, purchase improvement, development and other either directly or indirectly related to its purpose, which is always related to real estate.
The major considerations viewed when purchasing through this kind of corporation include the fact that since corporate shares are viewed as “personal” as opposed to “real” property, the same is disposed of at death pursuant to the intestate provisions of the State or country of the decedent’s residence, or pursuant to the provisions of the Last Will and Testament of the decedent, under the laws of the country in which the same resides, without regard to the forced heirship provisions of French law and without the application of French inheritance taxes (pursuant to treaty).
Further, pursuant to a tax directive of April 2002, SCIs were determined to be residents within the meaning of the law in France, and as such, the payment of capital gains taxes were basically “on your honor”. As of January 1, 2004, the law has changed so as to provide that the Notaire (essentially, the equivalent of a US Title Insurer) is responsible for the withholding of the capital gains taxes from the income received as part of the sales price, for everyone, without exception. As such gone is the cry of being a physical resident for physical persons and therefore not subject to the tax based on historical tolerance and other, and also gone is the notion for an SCI that it will declare and pay the capital gains tax “on its honor”.
As of January 1, 2004, the capital gains tax is 16% along with a 10% social contribution. Arguably, non-residents owning property in their own names will not be responsible for the payment of the 10% social contribution, which will, however, be applicable to SCIs. Notwithstanding what may, at first blush appear to be a stigma for SCIs, it must be noted that my personal belief is that it is still highly advantageous to purchase through an SCI for non-residents and particularly Americans in light of the estate considerations set forth above as well as due to the fact that under the Federal Treasury Regulations, an SCI may elect, within a certain time of its formation, to be treated as a partnership for tax purposes. Failure to make the election can result in disadvantageous tax treatment in the United States, which I will not explore at this time.
It must be noted that the current situation regarding the rate of imposition of capital gains taxes on the island of St. Barthelemy is temporary. Once St. Barthelemy enacts its own tax statutes, capital gains and its tax will necessarily be considered. There is no reason to believe that no capital gains taxes would be due. In fact, it is normal and perhaps preferable that a tax be levied so as to enable the island to face its financial obligations. The capital gains tax paid on the island of St. Barthelemy will continue to be treated as a credit towards the amounts due in the United States as a capital gains tax, thereby avoiding double taxation. The notion of avoidance of double taxation is in fact the basis of a treaty and will continue to operate under the new Overseas Collectivity of St. Barthelemy.



In conclusion, there are many considerations and changes ahead for the island of St. Barthelemy. The exact nature of the laws to be enacted, including the notion of residency, that of taxation and the delicate balance necessary to be played out in order to keep the island at the forefront of the tourism industry, remain in the hands of the island resident, who are working towards creating a fair and evenhanded statute that will, on the one hand, enable the island to face its financial needs and on the other hand, keep the spirit and traditions of the island intact.
Chantal Decombe-Greaux

[Jun 27, 2013] Kay Quattrocchi is passionate about the Universe

Interview with Kay Quattrocchi by Panos Charitos Kay Quattrocchi is an artist passioned about the Universe and inspired by the latest discoveries unveiling some of its secrets. For Kay “Learning, discovering and opening our minds to other dimensions than those imposed by our five senses” is a so...

[May 31, 2013] World's 100 best beaches

CNN ranked Saline Beach N°5. Is it possible to rank the world's best beaches? Of course it is. This is the Internet. Will everyone agree with their ranking, murmuring respectfully among themselves about how perfectly accurate every placement is? Maybe not. This is the Internet. But that's why they...

[May 18, 2013] Dream races at Les Voiles de St Barth

Performance and a friendly atmosphere. For four years now, the Voiles de Saint-Barth has stuck with its simple philosophy of offering high class performance and a friendly atmosphere in the magnificent setting of the islands of Saint-Barth and has attracted increasing numbers from the yachting frat...

[Mar 27, 2013] J.crew catalog in St Barts

Preppy chic fashion finds an exotic backdrop on the island of St. Barths. If you've opened your mailbox in the last week you've probably seen the latest j.crew catalog with a cover photo featuring the famous Eden Rock hotel ...well, the floating dock at least! The world class crew found inspiration...

[Dec 18, 2012] Victoria Secret Angels heat up St Barts

Candice Swanepoel, Erin Heatherton, Maryna Linchuk, Alessandra Ambrosio The worlds sexiest angels hit the beaches of St Barths for a smoldering Victoria Secret photo shoot. The crystal clear Caribbean sea was the perfect compliment to the flawless curves of these stunning super models. Splashing ar...

[Dec 17, 2012] Kate Moss flaunts her famous figure in St Barts

Kate Moss on Gouverneur beach Kate Moss was the perfect ornament for the stunning Gouverneur beach on st. Barths. The iconic super model joined famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier for a glamorous photo shoot on one of the islands most pristine beaches. Still stunning at age 38 the Br...

[Sep 10, 2012] Rhony and the last hurrah on Island!

Last day in St. Barths. Aviva just couldn't give it up! Good thing they were able to escape for a classic St barths lunch at the nearly untouched Le Tamarin. Carole is shocked that the restaurant has not changed in 20 years! The traditional beauty of St. barths is well and alive at this eclectic ge...

[Sep 3, 2012] The Real Housewives of NYC more fierce than hurricane Issac!

RHONY continue to sizzle on the island of St barths. Come one come all...Looks like Sonja is going to get some action of her own tonight! LuAnn's not the only one who can speak the language of love...and all is fair on this sexy tropical paradise. Villa Dunes is turning into quite the love shack...

[Aug 29, 2012] Rhony and The Isle Of french Men

Fabulous, Sexy, live in the moment place! The Real Housewives Of New York all agree St. Barths is a "fabulous, sexy, live in the moment place". The fun begins with an exhilerating flight and safe landing at Gustav III airport in St. Jean, thanks to the expert pilots at Winair. Little did they kn...

[Aug 27, 2012] St Barts here Rhony come!

St Barths here they come! The RHONY start their primping for the luxury island trip to St barths! Ramona and Sonja get their "quick fix" of beauty treatments...LuAnn shops for bikinis it's like...well ... "something you want to do alone..." Will Avivas fear of small planes stop her from making the ...

[Jun 11, 2012] Where RHONY stayed in St. Barts?

Take a tour of the exclusive villa. Live like the Real Housewives of New York! St. Barths Online takes you inside the Dunes luxury villa where the girls stayed on their glamorous trip to the Island of St. Barths. The 16,000 sq ft Villa Dunes offers the ultimate in luxury. Heated pools, tropical ...

[May 22, 2012] Real Housewives Of New York

RHONY live it up on the Island of St Barts! Yachts, private villas, pristine beaches, barely-there bikinis and plenty of Pinot Grigio...the Real Housewives of New York (RHONY) hit St. Barts in style. Veteran housewives Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and Luann De Lesseps (The Countess) join new cast ...

[Apr 10, 2012] Beyonce and Jay-Z spend Easter in St. Barts

Beyonce and Jay-Z have taken their daughter on her first vacation. The couple, who celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary last week, have been enjoying the sunshine on the Caribbean island of St. Barts with three-month-old Blue Ivy over the weekend, and took the tot for a day trip on a yacht. ...

[Apr 2, 2012] Les voiles de Saint-Barth 2012

Kick-off Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012 Caribbean regatta in the magical French West Indies sailing paradise! Today the pres­ti­gious and top-class Caribbean sail­ing regatta Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012 with Gaas­tra Sports­wear as the offi­cial part­ner starts: At the third edi­tion run...

[Mar 31, 2012] The Ambiance of St Barths Bucket 2012

Inside the Bucket. This video features the 2012 St Barths Bucket Regatta and music by the Evan Goodrow Band. Special thanks to the entire crew of the Rebecca, Baz Bar, St Barths Online and the guys from the Evan Goodrow Band for putting on a fantastic show. The song from the Evan Goodrow Band is c...

[Mar 27, 2012] Bucket Regatta 2012: SY Rebecca

On board with Rebecca. The best event in St Barths took place on March 24 - 27, 2012. This video features the beautiful 141 ft sailing yacht, The Rebecca. produced by Real Media Travel for St. Barths Online and Baz Bar St Barth.

[Mar 14, 2012] Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell in holidays

The age old saying of "I need a holiday to get over my holiday" actually seems applicable if you happen to be Paul McCartney. The Beatle took wife Nancy Shevell on a romantic break to the Caribbean island of St Barts, just days after the pair visited Paris. Last week, the lovebirds showed support ...

[Jan 19, 2012] Chris Hemsworth - Elsa Pataky - Matt Damon

On the day their pregnancy news was announced, Thor star Chris Hemsworth, 28, and Elsa Pataky, 35, were seen in sunny St. Barts, France on Wednesday (January 18). The Fast Five actress looked lovely in blue, sporting her beautiful baby bump. Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky Chris and Elsa - w...

[Jan 3, 2012] Tamara Mellon on the beach

She might be 44, but Tamara Mellon still boasts a figure that women half her age would be proud of. The Jimmy Choo co-founder showed off her toned figure in a sexy animal-print bikini as she hit the beach with her daughter in St Barts yesterday. The skimpy string two-piece highlighted Tamara's env...

[Jan 2, 2012] Gary Lineker and his wife

With almost every other celebrity couple enjoying the New Year in exotic locations, Gary and Danielle Lineker weren't going to be any different. The married couple were spotted enjoying a romantic walk along a beach in St Barts today - and looked very much in love. Gary, 51 and his wife, 32, had o...

Search the Site

Official Sponsors