…It was tempting November Friday offer from a tourist agency manager, of a week-end tour to small beautiful Southwestern Balkan’ country with pristine nature; the land of almost two hundred thousand cement bunkers and 3 million population. Once upon the time, it was liberated from the next to last European dictator, that followed by revolution, freeing the nation 20 years ago from government-supported-banking-Ponzi-scheme.
Yes, the country of destination was Albania, and the tourist agency with manager in it was located in Montenegro. The aim of the tour was …well…the Tourist tax optimization.
Tax optimization, Balkan way:
crossing the border of the land with history
of mass – Ponzi banking scheme and armada of cement bunkers
For this purpose forgetful foreigner was meant to cross the border with Albania, perhaps on the way greasing some palms of border officials being curious if a foreigner might of missed Montenegrin “Bely Carton”. A Bely-Carton-less-foreigner would spend an hour or so in Albania, than would return to Montenegro. Where in a tourist agency within 24 hours based on data of fresh-stamped passport a foreigner would obtain “legitimate” Bely Carton, i.e. would pay Tourist tax. The story was so compelling, in particular the part about 20 Euro cross -border investment.
The first option though was visiting local Montenegrin customs’ inspector and paying penalty for failure paying Tourist tax in time. Some-one might assume, no big deal, tax-avoidance, it happens. Especially when foreigner is not aware about existence of particular tax, and in particular, when local language is Greek for him/her. And in particular, when local acquaintances (a land-lord for-instance) are certain, that “Bely Carton was abolished two years ago, so no official asks a foreigner to show a paper Bely Carton in airport anyway”.
Montenegrin customs inspector’ option was more attractive because its certainty. Besides, the math dictated decision-making: considering fuel price Euro 10 (travel to Albania and back), and border investment ranging from 0 to Euro 20 or twice this sum, as borders are guarded from both sides.
It was in the past,
but now you violated the law and have to pay
Everything goes in patterns. When the foreigner had chosen the option with customs inspector in it, the conversation in customs’ department went like this.
The Land-lord: “We fell ill (or travelled into far-away region of Montenegro) immediately on arrival into Montenegro, so we late with paying Tourist tax”.
The Inspector: “It was in the past, and now you violated the law, so due to pay penalty. Any foreigner should pay Tourist tax in Tourist agency or in Police within 24 hours after arrival into Montenegro, the dead-line for paying Tourist tax is 48 hours. After 72 hours electronic systems shall be blocked and a payment shall not be accepted. These data are in tax and customs’ data base since 2015, so it is available in airport as well.”
The foreigner’ thoughts: “Aha. That is why there is no need to check the paper proof of payment of Tourist tax (Bely carton)”.
30% penalty discount
So the penalty was 40 Euro, while papers indicated amount of 60 Euros. It turned out to be 30% penalty discount, for voluntary and not very late visit to inspector. Another good news was that it was full payment, the penalty of Euro 40 involved Tourist tax as well.
The fares are: Tourist tax in average is 1 Euro per day per adult foreigner, notwithstanding the time of the year (when paying through Tourist agency; winter Tourist tax tariff is 0,50 Eurocents per day if to pay in police department); maximum penalty for failure to pay it is Euro 200. More about Bely Carton you may find here http://saharova.com/2016/07/31/beli-karton/
As I learned, the reason for late payment was attempt to save 4 Euro for 4 (four) days stay’ payment, as in previous times it was OK to pay through Tourist agency up to 5 days of delay after arrival into Montenegro. But since October 2017 government regulated electronic payment system to block acceptance of payments with 3- days and more delays. As a result, instead of paying 14 Euros Tourist tax for 14 days stay a foreigner paid 40 Euros penalty with discount in Montenegro.
Participants of this story did not reach unanimous opinion, and some are in favour of two different scenarios: the one where a foreigner could as well pay nothing; and another where he/she could get new experience and acquaintances in the land of former state-supported Ponzi banking scheme and armada of cement bunkers.