The Irish Sailing Association is at it again, lobbying for the retention of a system under which the vast majority of owners of diesel-powered private pleasure craft can safely engage in tax dodging.
The ISA folk don’t want you think about that part of it so, although they say that they hold “no brief for those who have not complied with the current arrangements”, they concentrate on all the disasters that will befall leisure sailing folk if they can’t buy cheap diesel. Apparently there will be outbreaks of scurvy, plagues of locusts and unwanted exercise if boaters can’t continue to buy subsidised fuel.
You can read it all here if you want a laugh, but Commander Walker’s immortal words come to mind:
BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WON’T DROWN.
If owners of private pleasure craft are as nitwitted as the ISA say …
Leisure vessels would go to sea either overburdened with spare cans of fuel, or with insufficient reserves on board. Distress situations would arise and lives would be at risk.
… they will at least have the consolation of knowing they may be nominated for the Darwin Award. But I don’t believe they are, and I believe in the power of the free market: if seafaring yachties have to use white diesel, a supply will arise to meet the demand.
The ISA are asking us to ignore the elephant in the room: to treat as an incidental and minor side-effect the fact that (by my reckoning) 99.75% of those who should be paying tax are not doing do. That scale of tax-dodging means that the current scheme is a complete failure, indeed a farce. It would have been really nice if the ISA had used their accumulated brainpower to devise schemes whereby yachties (and other owners of diesel-powered private pleasure craft) would have to pay the full price for their fuel.
The ISA say …
The issue for leisure sailors is not the price of diesel but its availability.
… but the fact that (at a rough guess) only 0.25% of them have been paying the proper rate of tax for the past five years, even though all they have to do is to send a cheque to the Revenue Commissioners, strongly suggests to me that “leisure sailors” are keenly interested in the price and have few qualms about ripping off the state.
According to Practical Boat Owner 584 March 2015, one Harry Hermon, described as “chief executive of the RSA”, said:
The ISA’s role is to promote the sport and to protect the interests of Irish sailors, hence the ISA’s interest in this matter. It is not the ISA’s remit to regulate or to enforce regulation.
But what the ISA is doing goes well beyond the neutrality that that suggests: it is actively promoting and lobbying for the retention of a scheme that facilitates tax-dodging by boat-owners. The ISA’s stance might be slightly less irritating if their friend Cantillon in the Irish Times hadn’t been prating about an “honour system” for paying the requisite tax. In 2014 just 20 boat-owners paid the tax for 2013 [I have not yet got the figures for 2015, covering tax due for 2014], which suggests that honour is not to be relied upon.
You might think that the ISA would have an interest in the financial health of the state: after all, the taxpayers give them over one million euro a year. But perhaps, in the yachting world, it’s more blessed to receive than to give?