FNM Senator: Bahamas Not Ready For VAT
By Jones Bahamas:
In fact, Free National Movement (FNM) Senator Kwasi Thompson said this is “highly unlikely.”
“The government has not done enough to educate the public and I also ask the questions – are the necessary infrastructure in place? Have all the necessary persons being hired? Have all the necessary persons being trained? Most businesses are still unsure how it works and how it will affect their businesses. There are many issues in terms of VAT,” Senator Thompson said.
Flying in the face of ongoing backlash, the government is pushing ahead with VAT, a tax reform system the Christie Administration insists is needed to expand the country’s revenue base and one that is critical to preserving the country’s confidence as a secure and attractive destination for investment, which can be achieved “no other way.”
Finance experts have repeatedly stressed that to ignore such fiscal planning imperatives would be at the country’s peril.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has branded the country’s current tax system as both inefficient and inequitable.
It is the government’s intention to register only businesses with a turnover exceeding $100,000 per annum, thereby avoiding the “entanglement of smaller business in the system of VAT collection and filing.”
According to Mr. Christie, the government would still capture well over 95 per cent of the total turnover in the economy in this way.
“Focusing on the larger firms will also ease the administration of the VAT,” he has said.
But Mr. Thompson lamented the fact that in its present form, the VAT bill requires businesses to file papers on a monthly basis, a process he described as “onerous.”
“What is even more egregious is that the payment of VAT is required 21 days after the work is completed or the bill is submitted and that is whether you have been paid or not,” he said.
“I believe this bill will be disastrous for small business, who do not receive payment for services immediately after their work is completed or do not receive payment immediately after their bill is submitted. In fact, the bill that is submitted sometimes for the service is not always the bill that will be paid. So, I believe even before we get to implement this process, these are the kinds of things that must be looked at must be addressed.”
The government is awaiting feedback from the private sector and the public before actually determining whether there is no viable alternative to VAT.
The Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association is pushing a Smart Tax.
Meantime, the Coalition for Responsible Taxation also believes there are options other than VAT including implementing a payroll tax.
The group is compiling a report on its recommendations.
April 09, 2014