New tax coming for some ships that fly the Antigua and Barbuda flag

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The government plans to remove the 50-year tax exemption issued in a number of areas to owners of any ship that secures and maintains registration in Antigua and Barbuda, but which is registered as an external company under the Companies Act.
The exemption was granted in 2006 during the tenure of the former administration, under the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping Act, 2006.
The specific section to be repealed is 11(5) which states, “The owner of any ship which is registered as an external company under the Companies Act and secures and maintains registration of that ship in Antigua and Barbuda shall be exempted from the payment of income tax, capital gains tax and other direct tax or impost that may be levied or collected in Antigua and Barbuda in respect of his shipping business for fifty years.”
The planned amendment, is revealed in the LAW (MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS) BILL, 2018 which goes to the Lower House of Parliament tomorrow.
In addition to repealing Section 11(5), the amendment also introduces a tonnage tax which will be paid into a special fund for the benefit of the financially struggling Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS). The entity has been unable to finance its own headquarters that has been under construction for several years but was recently stalled due to cost overruns which the government has refused to finance and is now investigating.
 The new tonnage tax will be under a newly inserted section – 17A to read as follows – “17A. Tonnage Tax (1) There shall be assessed against all Antigua and Barbuda registered ship a tonnage tax based on the gross tonnage of the vessel. (2) The rate of the tax shall be in accordance with the Fifth Schedule. (3) The tonnage tax shall be paid into a Special Fund established by the Minister in accordance with the Finance Administration Act established for the development of Marine Services.”
And, the Fifth Schedule to be inserted into the Act is outlined as follows under Section 17A(2) in figure 1.
The purpose of the amendments is, according to the government, “to improve transparency in tax matters and to close any existing gaps that might possibly lead to tax evasion or tax avoidance.”
The planned changes to the Marine Act is among several others targeting a number of Acts of Parliament, including The International Banking Act 2006; The International Business Corporations Act, Cap. 222; The Investment Authority Act 2006; and The Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Act 2016.
The government reasons that it is endeavouring to elevate the country to international standards and to be recognised as such among international partners, having already signed several Tax Exchange Information Agreements. 
The aforementioned laws to be amended fall within the mandate of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) (both the international and domestic financial services sector), The Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS), and the Commissioner of Inland Revenue (IRD) as Competent Authority in respect of tax matters.

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