July 04, 2012 2:35 PM
PHILIPSBURG – Timeshare owners vacationing in St. Maarten will be confronted with a 40 percent increase in stay over taxes if the parliament approves an initiative law the United People’s party faction submitted to the parliament’s Secretary General Jozef Semeleer yesterday morning.
Currently, timeshare owners pay a weekly stay over tax of $50. The initiative law aims to change the weekly fee into a nightly fee of $10, thereby increasing the tax with $20 per week, or 40 percent.
“ This is the first piece of initiative legislation; it was already mentioned during the budget debate by my colleague Jules James. It is an indirect tax that could be used to ease the burden on the community,” Up faction leader Sylvia Meyers said.
Her fellow faction member Johan Leonard said that the party recommends using the revenue to lower school fees or to eradicate them completely.
“The education of our youth is important to us,” he said.
MP Jules James said that the legislation would generate an additional $1 million per year, and probably more. The explanatory note with the draft states that revenue from the stay over tax will increase after the legislation’s implementation to 2 million guilders ($1.1 million) a year.
The stay over tax was imposed on timeshare owners in 1999 with a weekly tariff of $50. But according to the initiators of the new law, a weekly tariff does not work anymore, because timeshare owners sometimes stay shorter than a week (and still pay the full $50), or they stay a couple of days longer.
For stay-overs that lasted longer than one week, the government usually charged a double tariff, and sometimes the whole stay would only be charged with $50 “to keep the tourists satisfied.”
“It is generally assumed,” the memorandum states, “that a tariff for a stay per night will prove to be much clearer and effective than the current week tariff.”
The St. Maarten Timeshare Association has been a proponent of a nightly tariff for some time, the memorandum notes.
The Executive Council promised the timeshare association already ten years ago, in December 2002, to switch to a nightly tariff. But the plan was never put in practice.
The opposition’s proposal notes not only that the timeshare association kept pushing for a nightly tariff, but also “that the government agrees with this.”
“In her (the government – ed.) opinion the change will prove to be beneficial to the timeshare tourism and for the revenue from stay over taxes.”
Source: Today Newspaper St. Maarten