Fabian Demicoli

Host Families of Foreign Students meet to discuss the Tax Authorities demands

Host Families of Foreign Students meet to discuss the Tax Authorities demands

GRTU yesterday Monday 25th July 2005 convened a meeting at the Marquis Scicluna Hall at the Malta Trade Fair Centre, Naxxar for Host Families who lodge foreign students in their homes. Traditionally these Host Families paid no tax on the income supplements received from foreign students. The Tax Authorities are now insisting that these incomes are declared for income tax purposes and the Social Security Department is making other demands on social contributions and other demands effecting people receiving pensions or social assistance

· Host Families of Foreign Students meet to discuss the Tax Authorities demands

GRTU yesterday Monday 25th July 2005 convened a meeting at the Marquis Scicluna Hall at the Malta Trade Fair Centre, Naxxar for Host Families who lodge foreign students in their homes. Traditionally these Host Families paid no tax on the income supplements received from foreign students. The Tax Authorities are now insisting that these incomes are declared for income tax purposes and the Social Security Department is making other demands on social contributions and other demands effecting people receiving pensions or social assistance.

The Markiz Scicluna Hall was packed with people occupying every available space in the hall, corridors and adjacent spaces as the President of GRTU Mr Paul Abela welcomed those present and informed them that the Executive Council of GRTU had decided to accept registered Host Families as members and that GRTU was taking up this issue on behalf of Host Families.

Vincent Farrugia, Director General, GRTU reported that GRTU was already lobbying Ministers and Members of Parliament on behalf of Host Families and meetings were held with Minister Hon. Francis Dimech and Parliamentary Secretary, Tonio Fenech and he was hopeful that an acceptable solution can be negotiated.

GRTU had researched this issue and found that the EU Commission and various member states are highly supportive of the concept of families hosting students. All countries had legislations that promoted this activity as a highly desirable social action in the furtherance of better relations between member states and in the furtherance of education.

Vincent Farrugia stated that the concept of lodging of students in homes was not an economic one and various tax authorities in other EU member states considered this activity not as an income generating business activity but simply as a form of re-imbursement for the sharing of home facilities.

Payment received from students was not “rent” as rent implied temporary rights over a property while lodging gave no rights but simply offered sharing of facilities available to the householder. In the UK a minimum tax-free limit of Stg 4250 was fixed. Anything above this income had to be declared on the self-assessment form. The self-assessment took in consideration the market value of the property, depreciation of all furniture and facilities, cost of electricity, water, food and other running expenses. In the case of Malta taking a 3 bed roomed house as an example; Vincent Farrugia estimated that the cost per person lodged per day was in the region of Lm5.50. It was clear therefore, given the little income Host Families receive for each student lodged in the form of re-imbursement of expenses made by students, that government was making much ado about nothing.

GRTU had worked on a number of models as to how the question of any tax assessment can be tackled and that was why he was confident that the matter can be resolved. The Host Families present raised many points relating primarily to the problems faced in hosting students and all expressing how unfair it is that their efforts and sacrifices are not recognised to government. GRTU has called for Host Families to present their submissions, complaints and arguments to GRTU.

At the end of the meeting it was resolved that Host families would join GRTU at the advantageous rates offered specifically for them by the GRTU Executive. An action Committee is being chosen to represent the Host Families and GRTU was requested to proceed with the negotiations with government. GRTU will shortly be meeting Parliamentary Secretary Tonio Fenech to present him with an alternative solution to this problem.

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