Taxation of Seafarers on Vessels Detained by Covid-19

As the International Maritime Organization recognizes the Day of the Seafarer, it is notable that the tax protections offered crew under treaty and domestic law may not apply to those individuals engaged on vessels which are out of service due to the pandemic. Issues concerning whether a vessel that is out of service is engaged in “international traffic” for the seafarer’s exemption under Article 15 of the OECD Model convention have not been addressed in the OECD Policy Responses to Coronovirus (Version 3 April 2020). They may be subject to the general physical presence rule which, if present in a single country 183 days, may, absent coordination between the contracting States, render them resident and their employer liable for withholding. For seafarers not resident in a treaty country, domestic law of the jurisdiction where the vessel is located. Taking, for example, the United States, where the vessel is no longer “engaged in transportation between the United States and a foreign country” crew may be subject to tax. If or how governments address is currently unknown.