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Guernsey And The Isle Of Man Scrap Over Yacht Registration

by Jason Gorringe,, London

10 November 2005

Speaking to the Isle Of Man Online earlier this week, Moore Stephens director and VAT expert Ayuk Ntuiabane argued that Guernsey's yacht management firms are attempting to lure business away from the Island.

Citing his experiences at the Monaco Boat Show earlier this year, Mr Ntuiabane alleged that Guernsey-based service providers to the yachting industry had approached commercial yacht owners and suggested that they may represent the cheaper option.

He went on to explain that the firms in question were suggesting that national insurance contributions for UK taxpaying employees would not necessarily need to be paid in a Guernsey setup, whereas they would in the Isle of Man.

He told the Manx newspaper that:

"I talked to a number of people in Monaco who are increasingly telling me that service providers in Guernsey are mounting a campaign against the Isle of Man. They tell yacht owners that having an Isle of Man company makes them responsible for the crew's NI contributions."

"If an Island company employs UK taxpayers, then they would potentially be responsible for their class two NI, but the captains and crew may not be UK taxpayers so there would not be an issue."

"The key point is that they use a grain of truth in the whole argument. Generally you don't have to pay NI in Guernsey, but it depends on the structuring. When the Guernsey people talk about liabilities they don't mention structuring. If the vessel is UK registered, using UK-based seafarers or operates in UK waters, a Guernsey company can be liable for NI contributions."

Mr Ntuiabane went on to suggest that Guernsey-based providers are also misleading yacht owners with regard to the validity across Europe of the Isle of Man's VAT paid certificates, and are furthermore using the Island to obtain certificates for reclaiming VAT without informing yacht owners.

He observed that:

"Guernsey service providers come to me for VAT registration. I am happy to do that, but there is still a problem with that arrangement. What I feel uneasy about and what I try to counter, is the idea that you must necessarily go to Guernsey to have this arrangement."

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