Barbadians urged to utilise tax amnesty
Wed, 12/14/2016 - 12:00am
Government is urging Barbadians to take advantage of the tax amnesty being offered until February 15, 2017 and pay the income tax owed to the State.
The call has come from both Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. Leading off the debate on the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill in the Lower House yesterday morning to put the legislative framework in place to support the amnesty which started in September, Sinckler told fellow Members of Parliament that Government is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, and while successive governments have offered amnesties and the current Government has offered three or four since coming to office, this instalment will be the last for “a very long time to come”.
“Whilst we don’t encourage it and ought not to encourage it, everybody including Government from time to time has problems, cash flow problems, may have other challenges and they make real time choices in relation to which items of expenditure they prefer to pay, or may have to pay to keep themselves operable. And we try as a government to work with those individuals, companies, corporations and entities to see that those legal obligations are met, that the responsibilities to those persons who they have in their employ or otherwise, contracted or subcontracted, that those obligations are met in an orderly fashion,” he said.
Sinckler said that the amnesty has been going well thus far, with a number of people taking advantage of it, but he is urging even more persons not to let the opportunity pass them by. As such, he is encouraging persons to visit the Barbados Revenue Authority’s website or that of the Government Information Service to look at the “fair and reasonable” terms and conditions of the amnesty. In fact, he said so fair and reasonable are the conditions that even persons who have been sued by State entities for outstanding taxes, and against whom judgements were awarded, are also eligible for the amnesty.
“We’ve really gone out of our way to make this as easy and as reasonable as possible and I think in those circumstances therefore I would commend this to anybody,” the Finance Minister said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stuart, in a brief intervention, reiterated the call for Barbadians to take advantage of the amnesty as he explained that tax evasion is prohibited in law. His comments came as he added that the payment of taxes is “absolutely necessary” in order for Government to meet the diverse needs of the society including housing, health care, education and infrastructure.
“Ultimately Government needs all the taxes it can get, as I said, to meet the diverse needs of the population and if taxes are not being paid, then the quality of services which any Government is capable of offering will be correspondingly compromised. So I think Mr. Speaker that this amendment deserves the support of the House, it certainly has my full support and I just want to express the hope that full advantage will be taken of the facilities being offered,” he added. (JRT)