A technical challenge is holding back the newly established Barbados Revenue Authority from becoming fully operational.
Word of this has come from commissioner of the BRA, Margaret Sivers who said the entity was experiencing difficulty getting the computer software systems of the four merged government revenue collection agencies to “talk to each other”. Sivers said the authority was moving towards seeing everyone as a taxpayer, rather than a tax type such as VAT or corporation tax registrant.
“We want to see you as a taxpayer, including being able to assign the properties you owed, assign your tax identifying number to those properties. And I am sure you would know why we would want to be able do that,” she declared.
“So we are working towards having a single taxpayer view.
“It is not something that we know we will be able to achieve in a week, or two weeks. We have four legacy systems that don’t speak to each other. So we are in the process of finding ways of getting that taxpayer view, as we seek to integrate these various systems,” stated Sivers, a former accountant general.
“They all have the same operarting system,” added the BRA head,”they all use the same data base . . . software, they just don’t talk to each other. Over the last eight or nine years, we have spent quite a bit of money in terms of IT infrastructure; so to reinvent that wheel, we don’t want to go there.”
“So we are working towards finding means by which we can integrate the software. In the meanwhile, while we look at integrating the software, we are putting systems in place that will enable you as the taxpaying public to find it a lot easier to enteract with the Barbados Revenue Authority.”
She noted that, in the interim, the revenue collecting agencies continue to operate from their various locations.
“We hope in another three months, we would have the functional areas established,” Sivers said.
She cautioned that even though the BRA would not reject cheques written to the previous collection agencies, it was necessary to make out such payments to the Barbados Revenue Authority, which is now the legal entity.
“We are not wiping out everything that has happened and we do not expect that much change would occur, you would see much differences in the first couple of weeks. But we are working with a date that we would be able to get some level of integration, so that you will be able to make your payments at any location,” the Revenue Authority commissioner promised.
“Right now you can pay your land taxes or your licences at Oistins and it doesn’t matter which cashier you go to any more; there is no longer a licensing cashier and a land tax cashier; we have already integrated Oistins, that was our test site. We are currently working on Bridgetown; we don’t want all of the payments to come to Bridgetown, but if you are paying your VAT or your corporation taxes, or your PAYE or your land tax, and you are making a payment by cheque it can be dropped into the box at the Treasury Building.”
Sivers pointed out that the BRA is establishing a customer service department on the ground floor of the Treasury Building, so that taxpayers with issues could direct them there.