Treatment of Space Insurance

Sovos
October 27, 2022

Space insurance and the application of IPT on these policies has been a talking point in recent months. The main question? Location of risk.

This blog considers the background and explores the current state of space insurance.

What does space insurance cover?

Space insurance typically provides a broad range of coverage relating to spacecraft, such as satellites and rockets, but also covers the vehicle used for launching the spacecraft.

Although not an exhaustive list, some of the classes of insurance set at European Union (EU) level that we expect to be included are:

  • Class 1 – Accident including injury to spacecraft and launch crew members
  • Class 7 – Goods in transit, including transport of the spacecraft ahead of launch
  • Class 8 – Fire and natural forces for fire risks to the spacecraft – this includes during manufacture, assembly and launch
  • Class 9 – Other damage to property for various other risks to the spacecraft, including during manufacture, assembly and launch
  • Class 13 – General liability, i.e., losses sustained by other parties caused by spacecraft operation and during the de-commissioning stage when the spacecraft potentially returns to Earth
  • Class 16 – Miscellaneous financial loss for business interruption coverage in respect of the spacecraft

How do you tax Space Insurance?

Given the different elements of coverage possible, it is important to tax each element appropriately.

For example, the portion of the coverage related to damage to the spacecraft itself (including fire) may result in certain parafiscal charges due on property and fire insurance in some countries.

On the other hand, the portion of the coverage relating to the transport of the spacecraft may benefit from one of the exemptions that exists in many EU jurisdictions for goods in transit insurance.

It is worth noting that the United Kingdom has an IPT exemption relating to contracts of insurance for the operation of spacecraft within certain classes of business (including those classes identified above). The scope includes the operation of the spacecraft during launch, flight, orbit or re-entry, and the operation of the launch vehicle and any business interruption cover. This does not, however, extend to risks relating to spacecraft construction.

How do you determine Location of Risk?

There may be multiple risk locations depending on the specific coverages provided on the policy.

When parts of a spacecraft are manufactured and then subsequently assembled, for example, they are considered moveable property and, as such, would be taxable in the property’s location based on EU rules, if contained in a building there.

When transporting spacecraft ahead of launch, then it would be taxable in the location of the establishment of the policyholder to which the insurance contract relates. Similarly, risks covering the launch, ongoing operation of the spacecraft once in orbit, and during the de-commissioning stage should be expected to be taxed in the same way.

From discussions within the market, we are aware that the practice has generally been to treat space policies as wholly exempt from IPT and parafiscal charges. This is rather than taking the approach to look at each element of the policy to see if they should be taxed, and if so, then how should the location of risk rules be applied to determine the correct country or countries.

Despite this practice, the market is presently rethinking its approach to taxing these policies. This is to mitigate the risk of assessments from EU tax authorities claiming for unpaid taxes. Subject to any future legal rulings affecting the market, the likely outcome is that IPT and parafiscal charges are charged as outlined unless there is a specific exemption.

Need help with space insurance?

Still trying to figure out how to approach space insurance? Get in touch with our IPT experts and request

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Author

Sovos

Sovos was built to solve the complexities of the digital transformation of tax, with complete, connected offerings for tax determination, continuous transaction controls, tax reporting and more. Sovos customers include half the Fortune 500, as well as businesses of every size operating in more than 70 countries. The company’s SaaS products and proprietary Sovos S1 Platform integrate with a wide variety of business applications and government compliance processes. Sovos has employees throughout the Americas and Europe, and is owned by Hg and TA Associates.
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