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Tax Advice for Superyacht Crew

Do professional superyacht crew need to pay income tax? This can be a confusing issue and present unique tax challenges. It will depend on your personal circumstances—for example, your international work environment and the varying jurisdictions that could be involved.

But you do need to be crystal clear on your tax obligations, because it’ll be much less hassle and far cheaper than playing ‘catch up’ later.

So appropriate international tax planning and advice is vital for maritime professionals. 

While we don’t provide tax advice at Yachting Financial Solutions, we are totally committed to helping superyacht crew navigate their financial journey to an independent life on their own terms. This includes pointing superyacht crew towards reliable tax advice resources.  

Clearly as tax regulations vary from country to country, no one tax advisor will be appropriate for all superyacht crew. In general, it will be an advisor in the appropriate country who advises working expatriates, not the tax advisor on the local high street.

Basic Tax considerations

One of the things to consider is your country of residence.

For superyacht crew who are UK residents, your tax specialist may tell you that you qualify for UK mariners tax exemption.  You will still need to make a tax return, though. 

For South African yacht crew who are still South African residents, your tax specialist may tell you that you qualify for reduced income tax liability, after considering how much time you spend in the country.

US national superyacht crew need to consult with a US tax advisor to keep their tax affairs in order. 

We can put you in touch with specialist tax advisors, who can help for these countries and others with a proven track record with superyacht crew. 

A common misconception is that the flag of the boat is relevant to superyacht crew tax status. It generally isn’t, so beware.

If you are working on a superyacht that is travelling constantly, you may be in a position where you quite legitimately don’t need to pay income tax. But it is extremely important that you verify this with a suitable professional. 

If you are on a boat that spends a substantial amount of time in one country during the year, you may be required to pay tax there. It is very important to be aware of the relevant local tax laws by consulting a specialist.

Where you spend most of your time will influence where you are liable for income tax

Tax tips for superyacht crew

  • Don’t wear blinkers regarding potential tax liabilities. Very often, the way to pay the least tax is to make sure that you pay your tax liabilities. 
  • Make sure you keep proof of your travelling out of your country of residence, such as air tickets, your contract on board the boat, entries in the ship’s log book, the crew list, etc.
  • Don’t base your tax strategy on gossip in the crew’s mess. It may take some time and cost money, but clarifying your tax situation should be much cheaper In long run.

Bear in mind that if you aren’t earning any money, then you don’t have any tax liability, So actually having a potential tax bill is a positive thing. 

Proper tax advice for maritime professionals is one side of the financial coin for superyacht crew. A financial planning and mentoring service as provided by Yachting Financial Solutions is the other side. We will help you to identify your financial and life goals and ensure that you build the long-term savings and investments that will mean you achieve them.   

With all financial planning:  to reach your goals, it is vital that you know your start point, (this will include any tax liabilities), as well as where you want to go. Then these tax liabilities can be factored in to allow you to reach your long-term goals and avoid any unsuspected surprises.

Potential tax liabilities aside, with all living expenses paid for by the boat and living where you work, all Superyacht crew have the ability to save far more of their income, than those living on land. 

This is a life changing opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

With the correct financial and tax planning you should be able to exit the industry to move onto your ideal life of independenceOn your own terms.

Your next step 

If you need tax advice, we can put you in touch with an appropriate tax specialist,

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