By Mark Heeter with Installation Management Command Directorate-Europe
WIESBADEN, Germany – The fees for five Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs and services in IMCOM-Europe will increase beginning April 1, to offset years of rising costs of maintaining them without price increases for the customers.
“Fees for some MWR services have not been adjusted over five to seven years while many costs related to provide our services have increased,” said Jeff Wertz, IMCOM-Europe Assistant Chief of Staff for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
“After many years of keeping prices at a very low level, we have reached a point where we must adjust our fees to retain the ability to provide quality services to our members,” Wertz said.
In Germany, the cost of a Value Added Tax (VAT) form will rise from $5 to $7 for purchases under $2,500, and from $65 to $90 for purchases over $2,500, respectively. Also, the hunting course fee in Germany will increase from $200 to $250.
The established VAT program processes and fees in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy will not change, as they are guided by different Status of Forces Agreements and in some cases offered by the Host Nation. As the proponent for the VAT and Outdoor Recreation hunting programs across military installations in Germany, these new fees will also take effect at Air Force installations, according to Rafael Wunsch, business consultant with IMCOM-Europe, who oversees the VAT and hunting fees.
“The VAT program is one of the most popular and widely used MWR services, and we have not raised the price of these forms in eight years,” Wertz said.
In a typical year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, IMCOM-Europe garrisons issued roughly 300,000 VAT forms, used for an average savings of €57 on the average purchase price of €300, according to Wunsch.
Additionally, for the larger scale purchases of €2500 and more, the average purchase price ranges from €12,000 to €25,000, resulting in significant savings to the individual €2,280 to €4,750 in tax avoidance, he added.
“Many local stores even permit collecting or combining of receipts within one month, resulting in even greater savings to an individual at a very small cost,” he said.
The minimum fees for three additional programs across IMCOM-E will also increase: storage units, car washes and Auto Skills Center bays.
“We conducted extensive analysis of the off-post markets for these services to ensure the increases are fair and reasonable,” said Steve Pelletier, recreation program manager for IMCOM-Europe.
“The (Auto Skills) bay fees were standardized in 2019, but the storage fees have never been standardized,” Pelletier said.
Some car wash facilities have continued to charge $3 for a basic wash, while comparable off-post car washes charge approximately €10, according to Pelletier.
Despite fee increases, MWR will still provide desired services at approximately 25 percent lower cost compared to services in local communities, according to Wunsch.
The adjusted prices will take effect as of April 1, and prices for existing storage unit contracts will remain in effect for the duration of the existing contract or the end of 2022, whichever comes sooner.