Bandleaders, tent managers and party promoters have not escaped the reach of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) again this Crop Over.
These seasoned Crop Over entrepreneurs are crying out, saying that BRA is being too harsh on them.
The situation has forced at least one veteran bandleader to scale back on his production for this year’s festival.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Chetwyn Stewart, leader of the popular Power X 4 band, revealed that he had been forced to produce less costumes this year because of the taxes being imposed on him by BRA.
“It has even affected my orders. I’m making fewer costumes this year for sure. I can’t afford to be left back with costumes this year at all,” he said.
“If I give them away or sell them cheap I still have to pay [VAT]. So it affects all the promoting and all the events. This is a serious problem,” he added.
“If after Kadooment I am left with costumes, and I decide to sell those costumes that are worth $20 000 for $2 000, I still have to pay VAT on the $20 000, the full thing. That is what we are having a problem with,” Stewart explained.
Calling the measures “ridiculous”, he made it clear that while those involved in the Crop Over Festival did not mind paying VAT, the list of items on which they had to pay the 17.5 per cent tax was continually growing.
“No one has a problem with paying the VAT, it’s just now you have to pay VAT on things you didn’t have to before.”
Stewart said one of their main issues was the fact that they were also being forced to pay VAT on costumes, even if that costume was being made for a sponsor.
As it related to the promoters, the veteran bandleader said they were being made to pay VAT even if they decided to let people in free to their events.
He also criticized BRA for charging VAT on giveaways done to help promote and market an event.
Another bandleader, who opted to remain anonymous for fear of victimization, said he felt BRA was being too harsh on the Foreday bands where registration was concerned.
“The question is, why the hot pursuit for VAT . . . which is maybe $26 on a $150 costume, which when offset might be none at all?”
Barbados TODAY understands that the bandleaders were scheduled to meet with Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley two weeks ago to discuss some of their issues.
However, the outspoken bandleader said the Minister never showed up, but chose to send a representative instead.
One irate tent manager, who also requested anonymity, said the officials at BRA simply did not understand what it took to manage a tent.
“The tents do not make a profit. Managers do the work for the love of it. So to insist that the tents pay VAT and especially on complimentary tickets is madness and unfair,” he complained.
“The authorities at BRA definitely do not have an understanding of the running of a tent . . . like paying performers, paying the band etc. Gate receipts for tents cannot cover the expenditure, especially since sponsorship is not what it was before,” he insisted, adding that those who continued to put on tents were doing it for love of Crop Over.
Just two weeks ago, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had insisted that BRA was simply doing its job.
He said for years, bandleaders and promoters had been abusing the VAT system.
“The BRA is trying to collect the taxes that is due to the Government of Barbados and people must understand that.
“We are developing very slowly, or very quickly depending on how you look at it, a culture where people believe that they should not be paying taxes and they should have events and put on shows and sell things and not pay taxes . . . all that the BRA is doing is enforcing the law” Sinckler had said.