The Daily Herald writes today, that Wolfgang Tooten, owner of Saba Divers Professional Dive Centre and Scout’s Place hotel and restaurant, attended with a private booth at the water sports Boat Fair “Das Boot” held in Düsseldorf, Germany, in January, where he received a strange visit from a Dutch Tax Department civil servant at their Saba booth.
In an interview on Saba’s increased exposure on the German tourism market, Tooten said he is happy with the resulted bookings from the fair and the increased interest shown by European tour operators, especially Nautilus Tauchreisen. The Tootens distributed generic Saba tourism information brochures on top of promoting their businesses. He credits the increased European interest in Saba to the splash made by the extensive coverage of the island’s offer on the www.tauchen.de website and in targeted electronic newsletters. He commends the Saba Tourism Committee for this investment.You can watch an interview of German Travel-TV with Wolfgang here.
The same water sports tourism outfit is following up with a visit in April for another article covering St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, an investment supported by the tour operators and the Tootens. The influential dive magazine Unterwasser plans to reprint the “tauchen” article before the Caribbean tourism high season in September. The positive results from the German market exposure triggered interest in allocating resources for exposure on the Scandinavian market.
Asked about follow-up on his public allegations concerning subjective implementation of the property tax on Saba, Tooten recounted his surprise that a Dutch Tax Department civil servant traveled all the way to Düsseldorf, showing-up at the Saba booth to indicate the tax department’s displeasure with Tooten’s choice to speak publicly with The Daily Herald concerning discriminatory taxation allegations. Tooten said, “When this guy showed up at the booth, I thought he was a tourist, not thinking someone from the tax department would come all the way from Holland to meet with me in Germany.
He told me that they are very upset, that “this was not the right thing to do, to go to the newspaper.” Tooten qualifies his statements saying that he doesn’t know if the civil servant was in Düsseldorf in his official capacity or as tourist, but notes that an intense discussion ensued. The civil servant informed Tooten that the Tax Department expects him to produce proof of his allegations that the Tax Department is incapable of implementing the property tax law without discrimination. Unless Tooten can produce statistics showing at least 50 per cent of properties were not assessed, the department will dismiss his allegations.
Tooten sees humour in this twist of requesting taxpayers to prove the incompetence of civil servants, instead of the tax department being obliged to share what should be public information concerning taxation practices and abilities. Tooten says the civil servant who approached him in Düsseldorf, alleged that the tax department had collected tax revenue from most businesses, but not private landlords.
Tooten says he fails to see the distinction between taxation of business properties versus those of landlords. The civil servant is said to have argued that landlords are lying, most having paid. Tooten wonders why goodstanding taxpayers would have reason to lie about not having paid taxes. In any case, Tooten argues this should only incentivise the Tax Department to immediately release public data on its property tax implementation performance.