Ocean-going ships and VAT exemptions

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By the Resolution issued on 12th January 2017 (no. 2/E), the Italian Revenue Agency, in addition to the exclusion of ships involved in salvage operations and fishing boats from benefits related to the assignment and/or performance of services (art. no. 8-bis of Italian VAT Decree), held that the VAT exemption for “ocean-going ships” can apply only where the official documentation of the previous year proves that the ship performed more than 70% of her voyages on high seas (beyond 12 nautical miles). Therefore, said Resolution implies that length and tonnage requirements formerly identified by EU Court of Justice to define the “ocean-going ships” (EUCJ, Commission/France, C-197-12) are no longer sufficient to enjoy the aforesaid exemption.