Freight Tax

Appropriate allowance for freight tax must be made in voyage estimates and subsequently in freight rates negotiated by shipowners. Furthermore, mention of any freight taxes should be made in charterparties and contracts, clearly specifying which of the contracting parties is ultimately responsible for payment of such charges, as, even though in the first instance the recipient of freight is liable for payment of taxes, it may be negotiated that a shipper or charterer is ultimately responsible and must in due course reimburse a carrier for expenditure so incurred. Some governments which impose taxes on freight negotiate bilateral agreements with other governments under which ships registered in certain nations are exempt or partially exempt from such charges, and it behoves all concerned in negotiating ocean voyages to check carefully first whether freight taxes are likely to be levied and, secondly, which nation’s ships, if any, are exempt. This can be clarified via the good offices of an agent in the port(s) involved or perhaps more simply in BIMCO’s ‘Freight Tax’ booklet, although, being an annual publication, this may be slightly out-of-date for the particular case under review. It is essential to clarify the exact circumstances under which vessels will be exempt from freight tax. It may be that Greek flag ships, for example, are exempt under one particular nation’s regulations, providing only that the freight beneficiary resides in Greece. Thus a Greek flag ship owned ostensibly by a Liberian corporation (even though the shares in that corporation are held by Greek nationals) would not qualify for exemption; whereas if the vessel was time chartered to a Greek resident, individual or corporation for the voyage in question, as disponent owner that resident or corporation might very well qualify for exemption.