PHUKET: The chief of the Phuket Provincial Excise Office, Narong Srivanitchakorn, has announced that the long-awaited reduction in excise tax on foreign registered yachts has finally come into effect. The new rate of excise tax means that anyone keeping a foreign-registered boat in Thailand for longer than six months must pay taxes and duties totaling 37.6%, or 47.2% if the boat is to be used in a business. Previously, the taxes and duties for importing a boat totaled a hopeless 209% of the value of the boat, which, K. Narong admitted, was much too high. “The reason for the reduction is that we were not able to collect much tax; most yacht owners avoided paying by sailing their boats out to Langkawi or Singapore every six months, before bringing them back into Thai waters.” He advised owners, “It would be in your best interests to come and pay the tax yourself, without us having to ask you or having to issue an order.” Anyone late in paying the tax, he pointed out, faces a fine of anywhere between two and 10 times the amount of tax owed – on top of the tax. “If your boat has been imported for commercial purposes, the fine will be between five and 15 times the tax owed,” he added. K. Narong noted that yachts that are for personal use only – and that will not be used in a business – are now not subject to value added tax (VAT), but only to import duty, excise tax, and the Mahad Thai (Interior Ministry) tax. The new, lower rates are unlikely to be of any benefit to either Thailand or the yacht owners, as they are still much higher than in neighboring countries. Malaysia, for example, allows yacht owners to keep their boats in Langkawi for two years without paying taxes, and after that period requires payment of only 5% VAT. Yacht-owners may check how much it will cost to import their boat into Thailand at https://www.phuketgazette.net/boattax.asp While yacht owners face reduced imposts, K. Narong announced that the owners of imported motorcycles, “such as Harley-Davidsons”, face higher taxes, with the excise tax rate going up from 3.1% to 5.29% with effect from the new year.