Ship-based workers in North Sea face tax billsNews // September 30, 2008
Thousands of North Sea workers could be in line for large tax bills, according to a recent report from BBC Scotland, following a ruling by Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officials that some vessels involved in offshore work should no longer be classed as ships.
As a result, workers on dive vessels and other vessels may no longer qualify for seafaring income tax concessions.
"Unions have criticised the move, but the HMRC said it had a duty to ensure the law is applied correctly. It is understood the tax liability has been back-dated to April 2007," said the BBC report.
Vessels working in construction and construction support, well service and dive support will all be affected, but pipelaying barges will continue to be considered a ship if they are involved solely in laying pipes. Other vessels will be considered on an individual basis.
Jake Molloy, of the OILC/RMT union, told BBC Scotland the new HMRC guidance on the law could "cripple" the dive support and ROV industries.
He added: "It could be a damning blow for the ROV and dive support industry, in that they were able to attract people of a seafaring background to work in the industry because of this provision."
"Many of them now will see that attractiveness gone, and almost certainly we will see a move of many thousands of workers potentially moving back to other industries because they don't have to be away from home all this time to cover their tax."
Peter McEwen, deputy general secretary of the maritime union Nautilus UK, said the decision was "outrageous" and called for an urgent meeting with treasury officials.