Financially strapped UK Government seeks to tap new revenue streams and sailing is in the crosshairs. Is there a tax bullet coming our way?


Stealth Tax on Sailing

The UK Finance Ministry is set to introduce a ‘stealth-tax’ on sailing. It was planned to have been included in the recent Budget but the details were not finalised in time.

Under the proposals, ‘participants in water-based activities will have to pay an insurance policy to cover the costs of emergency rescue services and to help protect the marine environment’.

The cost of this ‘insurance’ for a typical 34-foot sailing yacht is expected to be £300-£400 a year. Motorboats of similar size will pay £150-£200, because they are deemed to be safer than sailing yachts.

The tax will apply to all ‘water sports’ including surfing, sail-boarding, jet-skiing, dinghy sailing, yacht cruising and racing, and motorboating.

The actual amount payable will be determined on a sliding scale based on the ‘risk of rescue and environmental impact’ of the activity.

Chancellor George Osborne may have back-tracked on some of his proposed money making schemes in the recent Budget, but this ‘water sports tax’ is still currently being discussed, according to a whistleblower in the UK Finance Ministry Special Projects Office.

The practicalities of the tax are causing headaches in Westminster. It is still unclear whether the tax would apply to vessels or participants, but it will be introduced on 1 April 2017.

Yachting Monthly editor Kieran Flatt said: ‘There seems to be this misconception that anyone who sails is wealthy, and therefore an easy source of revenue for the government. The cost of sailing has increased dramatically over the last 10 years and any further financial burden will be very hard on thousands of ordinary people who just want to be left alone to enjoy the freedom of our seas.’

Yachting Monthly will keep you informed of any further developments.