The Sin Tax: The Details & It’s Not As Awful As First Proposed

beach bar
Wow, what a response we received yesterday! For those of you who are a day late to the party, the Governor approved the Sin Tax bill this week which called to significantly raise prices on beer and alcohol throughout the Territory. The good news is that the final numbers are pretty much less than half of what was initially proposed. Here are the details:

  • The tax on foreign beers will be $6.08 a case. This is only $4 more than the current tax.
  • The tax on domestic beers will be $5.00 a case. This is only $3.45 more than the current tax.
  • Liquors or distilled spirits will be taxed at 10 percent as stated in the original proposal.

We chatted with one of our favorite bar managers this morning, and he said that the new numbers aren’t going to affect the bars and restaurants too drastically, although we still need to learn how the distributors will handle this. So beer prices may go up a dollar or so, but that’s not really too terrible in the scheme of things, is it? It’s definitely not a reason to cancel your vacation to our beautiful little slice of paradise.

And with regarding to the proposed timeshare tax, it is being called an “Environmental/Infrastructure Impact Fee.” That fee will be $25 per day of occupancy. The “timeshare plan manager” or “timeshare association” will be responsible for “collecting the fee” according to the Bill.

One thing I found interesting in the Bill, which I have yet to hear anything on, is a new tax on boats. There’s a three percent increase, although I’m not certain is that’s an annual tax, a sales tax or what. We’ll try to get more info on that.

In the meantime, don’t cancel your trip. Stop researching news islands. And come and see us!

25 thoughts on “The Sin Tax: The Details & It’s Not As Awful As First Proposed”

    • We have been coming to St John for 16 years and some years twice a year. I’m tired of being nickled and dimed. This was the nail. We will be there in early May and consider this the last trip. Jost will be our next place to spend our money.

  1. You are right. A $1 increase for a beer is not cause to cancel one’s USVI vacation. I think it is wrong, however, to pretend that this is nothing. Over the last five years there has been this constant erosion of the tourists’ dollar with these increases in taxes. The hotel/villa tax increased more than 50%. Then there is this tax increase. All of this while we read about the Territory buying ferries that the operators don’t want, the governor living in luxury, top staff getting large pay increases, and the circus that is surrounding the property tax. You collect taxes from us because you are unwilling or unable to collect it from the residents.

    Yes, it is your island. The only reason it has the life and economy that it does is that stateside Americans and international visitors go there to infuse huge amounts of cash. The only reason there are not crews driving piles in Coral Bay to build a marina right now is because thousands of stateside Americans put political and economic pressure through letters, publicity, and petitions on the authorities to stop it.

    No person should expect to go to the USVI without paying for the cost of them being on the island. If there were no tourists, most or all of the costs to run the Territory would be dramatically smaller. Trash collection, police services, road maintenance, and many other operations would be small fractions of what they are now. There are costs for us to be there and we need to pay for that. You, as residents, must also pay your own way. That’s not happening now. The elected and appointed officials must act responsibly. We don’t see that either.

    No, we are not happy or content with this tax increase. It is not OK to try to increase golden egg production by strangling the goose.

    • Not entirely true, Jim, and you know I love ya. 🙂

      We pay our share too. As a renter, I cannot speak to property taxes.

      All business owners, whether we are renters or property owners, pay taxes.

      And I never said this was nothing. I simply said that it is not as bad as first proposed.

      And you’re right, our government is a joke. That’s the real problem here.

      • I love you too. I look forward to your posts here and on FB.

        It wasn’t long ago when the Territory government could not figure out a way to collect property taxes to satisfy a judge. There was an order preventing them from collecting property taxes for about eight or ten years. When you add that to all the other nonsense we all agree is going on, it is a big deal. We have no plans to return, and I don’t know when we will. Although STJ is unique, it isn’t the only place one can go.

        As far as the “complainers” wasting time, Josh, why do you think they lowered the tax rate between the proposal and approval? Do you think they are going to get all the money they want or need at this rate? Public pressure, or as you like to call it complaining, made the difference. Your kind of comments only come from someone who has no idea how public policy is made.

        We could do better if we just responded to these attacks on visitors. Why do you think the Coral Bay marina failed?

  2. What is actually meant by time share. Is this a designation given to say the traditional time shares at the Westin or does this apply to all rentals such as Gallows or Caneel Bay. Also would it apply to a rental villas. That is a pretty significant addition to the 12 or 15 percent you already pay.

  3. No doubt there is corruption in the government,, but find me a place where there isn’t. Go ahead and raise those taxes. Enough of the complainers will waste their time to make themselves heard but nothing will change. Things cost more than they did 20 years ago. And the prices will continue to go up. That’s how it works. Your assets are probably worth more now too,, but nobody complains about that.
    We don’t come down to STJ because it’s cheap. We come because it is beautiful and we love the people, places and things.
    I’m ready for happy hour 😉

    • Josh,

      Hear! Hear! We’re also ready for “Happy Hour” on our vacation in St. John starting April 8th, and if you locate Utopia, i.e., where taxes and corruption do not exist, let us know. In the meantime we’ll just enjoy the beauty and tranquility that is St. John.

  4. I don’t think Daves question was answered. Does the $25 per day tax for time shares apply to Villa rentals? I wasn’t even aware there were traditional time share properties on St John. The current 12.5% tax now is considerable on the average $5000 per week villa.

    • No I believe it is strictly for time shares. Villas are currently taxed at 12.5 percent. The Westin is primarily timeshares. I know they are converting to 100 percent timeshares, but I’m not certain if that’s been completed or is still in the works.

  5. If a domestic case of beer is going up by $3.45 per case, that is about 15 cents per beer. The imported case is going up by about 16 cents per beer. I don’t want additional taxes but this doesn’t seem like a major deal. I feel for the locals who have to pay extra for beer all year but I think us visitors can probably swing an extra 16 cents per beer.

    • I agree; 15 cents increased tax per beer shouldn’t cause prices to go up $1 per beer; but let’s see what the vendors do. I’m not agreeing with the tax; just trying to do the math…

  6. In the states we pay taxes to support out city, county, and state on most food and beverage purchases. Why not support this government when we go on vacation? We think it’s a shame that there is no recycling program, pot holes in the streets, the school’s need repairs, homeless people and mentally disabled people need help.

    So the cost of beer goes up 16 cents, so now instead of $2.00 it’s $2.25, a bottle of rum $11 up to $12. If you can’t afford these increased, then go to Mexico. More room at the bars and beaches for us! AS messed up as the USVI seems, we will still support her and the people that live and vacation there. #wesupporttheusvi

  7. As an owner of a “traditional” timeshare at the Westin, the added $25/day is a ridiculous fee. We own in the original Virgin Grande section, which was sold/purchased as deeded property. We pay property taxes each year for our weeks, as well as Association fees … which are no small deal. The newer timeshare conversions are apparently sold as floating time, not deeded property. Bottom line to my train of thought is, if my “timeshare week” is deeded property, just like someone who owns a house in Chocolate Hole, why do I have to pay this additional money to stay in what amounts to my own house? Don’t see any difference between my situation and folks who own and live in their own homes on St. John …..

    • Penny, I agree. I have 2 fixed week units at the Westin. I pay property taxes on both annually and now I have to pay this addition $350. St. John is our favorite vacation spot; have made it annually for 12 years and a few rotating years prior. For the first time we have started to wonder if it’s time to sell. If we don’t, we’ll reduce our other expenditures, not so good for the local business owners.

    • Thats exactly our point too Penny!! We have deeded property on St. Thomas. We usually come down between 2-3 weeks every summer. This year, if we hadn’t already purchased plane tickets, I would think about other destinations. My vacation budget did not change with the Sin Tax, it will only change how I spend my money. The $525 we are having to pay for the Sin Tax, will not, unfortunately, be spent on the small businesses that we usually try to support. This makes me very sad. I hope that STT/STJ can get this guy (Mapp) under control.

  8. Thank you for this information. I see that the fee goes into effect May 1st. We have a trip scheduled right around that time, so we will be among the 1st to pay the fee. We love USVI, but this will likely be our last trip for a LOOOONNNG time. It may sound silly, but another $500 + on the trip we hadn’t planned on just puts it out of range for us.

  9. Remind us again where your governor lives? Oh that’s right, in a hotel. Not the governors mansion. And how many cars does he travel with to visit for events? Oh that’s right, seven suburbans. With bodyguards. Really? Trim your freaking waste of a government before you tax people more. Get real

    • I agree with you Robert. Please don’t think that any of us were for this. The majority of us who live in the Territory are completely sickened by our government.

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