Bonaire: Proposed Amendments to Local Taxes
September 21, 2021
Although most taxes on the BES Islands are imposed by the central government in the Netherlands and executed by the Caribbean Netherlands tax office, some local taxes are imposed by the public bodies, the governments of the BES islands. On the 27th of August 2021 the Executive Council of the public body Bonaire has proposed new legislation with regard to its local taxes. The proposal looks to implement a broader and less complex system of levying tourist tax combining the old Tourist Tax Ordinance, the levy for use of the harbor by tourist ships and the Rental Car Tax.
Currently the Tourist Tax levied is USD 5.45 per night from a non-resident that is older than 13 years-old and that resides in a real property in Bonaire. Members of a flight crew, persons on Bonaire for promotional purposes (as declared by the Tourism Corporation Bonaire) and residents of Curacao, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Saba and Sint Eustatius are exempt from the aforementioned Tourist Tax. Once the Tourist Tax is levied, an exemption can be obtained for General Expenditure Tax purposes (ABB).
Furthermore, a levy of USD 2 per passenger is imposed on tourist ships (cruise ships) for the use of the harbor and a Rental Car Tax of USD 4 per day per car that is rented. Renting a car is also taxed with ABB and no exemptions apply.
The public body of Bonaire finds that the complex system is hard to implement as well as to control properly and thus a proposal has been drafted to simplify the system.
Proposed Tourist Tax / Withdrawal Rental Car Tax
The proposed Tourist Tax Ordinance 2022 will impose a Tourist Tax on any visitor to Bonaire, where visitor is defined as any person not being a resident of Bonaire or a member of the crew of a plane or ship. Currently, passengers of cruise ships will also be exempt from Tourist Tax, but will be included in the Tourist Tax Ordinance as per September 1, 2022.
The Tourist Tax imposed will be USD 50 per visitor (independent of the number of days spend), with a reduced rate of USD 10 for any visitor younger than 13 years old at the time of visiting Bonaire, residents of Aruba, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten as well as passengers on cruise ships (per September 1, 2022).
The Rental Car Tax Ordinance will be withdrawn per January 1, 2022 if the new Tourist Tax ordinance is accepted by the council of Bonaire. Also in that case, the levy on cruise ships will be withdrawn per September 1, 2022.
The old Tourist Tax Ordinance will remain in place with a symbolic levy of USD 0.01 to ensure the ABB exemption will still apply. The ordinance will be withdrawn once the central government has changed the Tax Law BES accordingly.