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ITALY (eTN) – “The residence or tourist tax is a tax on consumers; the rules of application and exemption are condensed to a local individual fantasy, difficult to explain not only to the Italian

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ITALY (eTN) – “The residence or tourist tax is a tax on consumers; the rules of application and exemption are condensed to a local individual fantasy, difficult to explain not only to the Italian tourists but even more to foreigners.” This is the opinion of Bernabo Bocca, President of Federalberghi, (the Italian hotel federation), in reading the results of an extensive analysis of the federation conducted in collaboration with Mercury Srl, “a hated tax to 72 percent of Italians” (survey by Federalberghi-Dynamics).

“So far,” stated Mr. Bocca, “the tax has been adopted by nearly 10 percent of Commons that the law authorizes, with rates ranging from 0.20 cents to 5 euros per person per day, but another 5 percent is about to be approved, for a yield estimated to cash in a total 150 million euros for the year 2012. The income will be largely used to cover the deficits of individual municipalities and not to improve the tourist infrastructural of individual localities, which is the primary objective of the tax.

“The decision, however, to identify the accommodation facility as a sampling point is deeply inequitable,” pointed out the President of the Italian hoteliers, also because of the effects of imposing a liability and the imposition of tax on one of the many activities that benefit, directly or indirectly, from the tourist economy.

“The tourist tax should be abolished,” according to Mr. Bocca, “and the functions performed by local authorities in the tourism sector should be funded through the sharing of the VAT revenue of all productive activities, not from the tertiary economy that benefits tourism.”

Here are some examples that glaringly show how obvious it is that the tax is a crucible of creativity.

Exemption for children
For a family with young children who intend to visit an art city, eg. Naples, that city exempts children up to age 18, in Florence up to 12 , in Rome and Venice up to 10. But if the family plans to go to a spa structure, eg. in Tivoli (Rome area), the exemption would apply to children up to 2, up to 10 in Montecatini, in Fiuggi up to 12, and up to 13 in Chianciano Terme.

At the coastal areas, Viareggio is exempting up to 18 years, Rimini and Giardini Naxos (Sicily) up to 14 , San Benedetto del Tronto (on the Adriatic Sea coast) up to 12 (extended to 13 if the birthday is celebrated during the stay), Villasimius (Sardinia) up to 10, Peschici (Apulia) up to 10, but if one goes around the corner to Gargano Vieste (Apulia), the exemption rises to 14 years, while in the Ionian Cassano (province of Cosenza-Calabria), the charge also applies to newborn babies.

In the lakes districts, in Stresa (Lake Maggiore), the exemption covers up to 6 years, in Orta San Giulio (Lake Orta) up to 10, Bellagio (Lake Como) up to 11, in Salò (Garda Lake) up to 12, going across to Garda city, the exemption rises to 14 years.

In the mountain districts, in the Aosta Valley, the exemption is up to age 10 in all minor cities (provided that the children’s stay is free of charge), in Sondrio (Lombardy) to 14, and in Sestriere (Piedmont) 16.

Equally varied is the fantasy series tariff.

The tax rates
In Borgia (Catanzaro) the tax is 0.75 cents euro, per each hotel star, per person, per night for a stay up to a maximum of 15 nights; in Ischia from 0.90 cents to 3 euros (depending on the star rating ) per person, per night up to a maximum of 7 nights; Manerba del Garda from 0.50 to 2 euros (depending on stars) per person, per night with a maximum of 21 nights; Genoa 1 to 3 euros (depending on stars) per person, per night with up to 8 nights; to Ancona from 0.50 cents to 3 euros (depending on the hotel rates) per person, per night with a maximum of 15 nights; in Turin from 1.30 to 4.90 euro (depending on stars) per person, per night up to 4 nights; in Milan from 1 to 5 euro (depending on stars) per person, per night for unlimited number of nights; and Modena, battered by the earthquake, 0.50 cents to 4 euro (depending on stars) per person, per night for unlimited number of nights.

The regions most affected
At present, Tuscany, with 82 municipalities, ranks first among the most taxed regions in Italy, followed by Piedmont 68, Aosta Valley with 40, 37 Lombardy, Veneto with 20, Campania with 16, Apulia with 13 – fairly close to Sicily and Calabria, with 10 municipalities.

Foreign Tax application
An overview on the international tourist tax indicates that it is not applicable to Ireland, Malta, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In Spain, the tax has been abolished. It is expected to be reintroduced to Catalonia alone, from November 2012. The tax will not exceed 2.50 euro, exactly half of what is proposed by Italian law (5.00 euros). If we compare a 4-star hotel in Florence, the tax is 4 euro, while Barcelona is only 1 euro, concluding with France, where the maximum amount of the “taxe de séjour: is 1.50 euro per night, per person. And it is worth mentioning that VAT on hotels across the Alps is 7 percent, versus 10 percent in Italy.

“Well,” emphasized Mr. Bocca, “this is a typical controversially-conceived ‘Italian quagmire,’ which leads to further damage [of] the image and credibility to the whole country, just at a time when all we need [is] to be ridiculed.”

“While waiting for government and parliament to take up the matter,” concluded Mr. Bocca, “Federalberghi has developed its own draft guidelines for the correct application of tourist tax.”

Federalberghi guidelines for the tax system (suggestion)

1. Equity. In order not to avoid disturbances in the market, the municipality introducing the tax must apply it to all facilities, other than hotels, to include residence tourist hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, villas, and apartments, holiday homes, cottages, apartments for rent for tourism, and outdoor facilities such as campsites and holiday villages.

2. Proporsyonalidad. The tax must be proportional to the price. Consequently, it is possible to automatically take into account some objective parameters (category, location, seasonality, etc.), which otherwise can only be considered by a regulatory fine, that – in addition to complicate the matter, making it difficult to understand to the tourist – can also be regressive.

3. Exemptions.
The residents in the municipality should be exempted from the payment of the tax, as well as the manager of the structure and his staff, children, and the elderly; members of organized groups; the bus drivers, guides, and tour guides who give assistance to the organized groups; civil servants on mission; the sick; and those who assist patients admitted to health facilities; those who are housed in facilities to deal with emergency situations; hosted people; tourists traveling during the low season; and those on long stays.

4. Katungdanan
The accommodation manager cannot in any way be held responsible for failure of the guest to pay the tax nor be called upon to pay to the municipality, sums which he has not cashed. The problem affects not only the situation where the customer refuses to pay the tax, but also extends to cases, far more frequent, where the hotels receive the payment some time after the customer has left the structure (for example, payments made by tour operators and travel agents), as well as to cases in which the hotel does not receive payment of the consideration (for example, consumers who default or breach).

5. Burden.
Attention should be given adequate consideration to the costs it incurs to the contractor carrying out the role assigned to it by law (the personnel responsible for collecting and reporting activity, commissions payable to agents and managers of online credit and debit cards, use of equipment and supplies, etc.) which should be reimbursed.

6. Programmability.
Taxes should be implemented one year after the town council-approved resolution. This to avoid having the tour operator add the new tax on the price previously contracted with hotels and applied to the total package cost distributed for sale.

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Ang panguna nga editor mao si Linda Hohnholz.