Tax evaders, beware!
The newly established Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) will be going after all employed people who fail to file tax returns, including those in the “underground economy”.
Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers warned today that no one would escape, as the authority intended to deploy an intelligence gathering approach to capture persons currently outside of the net.
She said that while the BRA will first seek to encourage people to pay up, those who didn’t would be hit by tough penalties.
“We are currently working on profiling and doing a review of all taxpayers. I have been told that there are some outstanding tax refunds and we are focusing on those first . . . upfront,” Sivers said as she addressed a Barbados International Business Association luncheon at Hilton Barbados this afternoon.
The BRA top official said VAT and Inland Revenue tax refunds would be given priority.
“About a month ago, we would have directed that work should start on extracting information on taxpayers out of the various systems. But what we are trying to do is to extract that information, not only by taxpayer, but by year, whether it’ll be a refund or is an accounts receivable. The IT people have indicated to me that they should have the system up, ready for us to review in about two months, with a view to us being able to deal with the situation that exists, between now and the end of the first quarter of this month,” she disclosed.
“So we are hoping that information in terms of outstanding refunds will be available to us within the next couple of weeks.”
She also put all Barbadians on notice, that the new agency – which merged Government’s four revenue collection bodies – planned to go after the assets of persons who purport not to be earning money.
Sivers, a former Accountant General, cautioned business enterprises and others that the authority would take a hard line against extending tax filing deadlines, since she felt enough time was being given in the first place.
The BRA commissioner disclosed, too, that an audit would be conducted of the island’s tax system to address a matter which was causing much concern and was highlighted in the latest Auditor General’s report – the payment of multiple refunds to individuals.
“We are looking at putting measures in place to reduce, if not eliminate, a duplicate payment being made. We recognise that some of it is system related, and therefore we are putting in place a team to deal with this situation, not only from the IT perspective, but also from the business perspective,” stated the BRA commissioner.
“We have,” she added, “already organised with the Auditor General to meet with him to discuss how we will go forward in terms of not only auditing taxes . . . tax administration, but to do it from a value for money perspective which brings us a totally different approach to auditing of the organisation.
“But we are very much aware of the issue, with respect to the duplication of cheques and the multiple payments going out to individuals, and we are dealing with that,” declared Sivers.
She added that an information security unit had also been set up to audits the system.
“We have staffed it with internal auditors…we also have information systems auditors, so we are in a better position to monitor our systems and our processes, as we move forward,” Sivers said.