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Journal Times editorial: No bailout for cruise lines which pay no U.S. taxes

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There are legitimate questions to be asked, as debate continues in Congress, as to which individuals and which industries should receive federal assistance, commonly referred to as a bailout.

We’ve identified one group that should receive no federal assistance whatsoever:

Cruise lines that do not pay American taxes.

Seems simple, right? Would it be appropriate to use American taxpayer dollars to give financial support to Bayer, based in Germany? Or to Sony, based in Japan? Or to Philips, based in the Netherlands?

No, of course not.

If you’re wondering which cruise lines don’t pay American taxes, the answer is: Nearly all of them.

Celebrity ships? Registered in Malta.

Carnival ships? Registered in Panama and the Bahamas.

Disney cruise ships? Registered in the Bahamas, despite a name that reminds us of Chicago-born Walt Disney.

According to Cruise Lines International Association, 90% of commercial vessels calling on U.S. ports fly foreign flags.

Cruise lines escape federal taxes and labor laws by registering their corporations and vessels in foreign countries — such as Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas.

A vessel’s country of registration is commonly referred to as the “flag of convenience,” according to an academic paper by Caitlin E. Burke of the University of Florida cited on the fact-checking website Snopes.com.

Vessels within the same fleet are often registered to different countries, Burke wrote: Carnival Corp., for example, has flagged its cruise vessel Celebration under Panama and Destiny under the Bahamas.

While cruise lines often avoid scrutiny by using the term “headquartered in Miami, Florida” — and the majority of these cruise lines do have their headquarters in Miami — they are not registered in the U.S. So in addition to no American taxes being paid, U.S. laws do not apply and passengers and crew members are at the mercy of maritime law.

There is no reason for such cruise lines to receive one penny in taxpayer relief.

Not from American taxpayers, anyway.

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