In the face of a strong public outcry, Cabinet today agreed the full removal of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax in the case of pensioners, whose land carries an improved value of $190,000 or less.
At the same time, Government has decided to slash the tax rate in half for the benefit of owners of agricultural land.
At today’s meeting, the Cabinet further agreed to extend the deadline for payment for all taxpayers until December 31 this year. This will mean that all penalties and interests on the tax, which was due by July 28, will be waived until then.
“This means that taxpayers can now pay at a more leisurely and affordable rate,” reported one senior official.
Other government officials, in confirming the move to Barbados TODAY, said the Freundel Stuart administration had heard and responded to the appeals of the public.
The news comes as head of the Anglican Church in Barbados, Bishop John Holder, expressed concern today about the impact of the tax on its properties scattered across the island. The Bishop said the church which has 52 congregations and dozens of properties, intended to send correspondence to Government requesting an exemption from paying the tax.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) reported today that it was satisfied with how Barbadians were paying in the tax.
BRA Communications Officer Erica Lazare told Barbados TODAY all five locations were reporting “a fantastic” response from both locals and residents living overseas.
She however said the agency was anticipating “a rush” as the deadline drew closer.
“There might have been some complaints but by and large many people are paying the tax,” said Lazare.
“If you go to Oistins in the Southern Plaza [location] there are many people going there every day and when I spoke to the accountant there he said about 80 per cent of the people who are in the line are paying the Municipal Solid Waste Tax. And that situation has been going on for the past three weeks or so. So a lot of people are paying the tax,” Lazare stressed.
As it relates to residents living overseas , she said the response “has been fantastic”.
“We have been getting a lot of e-mails from people wishing to pay the tax and they have been sending us their information and trying to find out how to pay. They have been calling and giving either their credit card information or they have been sending their cheques by post, but I am getting a lot of people from overseas,” she said.
“We would expect a rush coming on to [the end], but people area already paying it. They have been paying it here at Weymouth Corporate Centre [St Michael and] they have been paying at the Treasury Building (in The City),” said Lazare, adding that the Treasury Building and Oistins locations were getting the most traffic.
The other locations for making payments are at Holetown Complex in Holetown, St James and Warrens Tower II in Warrens, St Michael.
Up to late this evening, estimates of how many Barbadians were due to pay the tax and how many had actually paid so far were unavailable, but Lazare maintained that “from seeing and from getting reports from the offices of the [five] locations” people were “definitely” making their payments.
“And I think the numbers are starting to rise as we get closer to [the deadline],” she added.
The BRA official also said: “Barbadians generally pay their taxes. They follow the laws . . . and they understand generally that taxes are a part of what you need to carry out certain functions in society. Most people [when] they get their bills and it is for a specific tax they are going to pay it whether it is VAT, the Municipal Solid Waste Tax or whatever. They will go and pay.”