The House of Assembly Tuesday night passed the Barbados Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart hailing the amendment as one that will ensure that Barbadians pay their fair share of taxes.
Making his contribution to the debate, Stuart pointed out that the Bill, which makes provision for the issuance of tax clearance certificates, seeks to close loopholes in the current tax collection system.
“What really can be wrong with a revenue commissioner trying to block loopholes in legislation to make sure that people live up to and discharge their tax obligations?” asked Stuart, who added that the legislation would only be a source of concern to persons who are not interested in paying taxes.
He therefore branded as “perverse and wrong-headed” arguments made by members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party against the amendment, which they said infringes on privileges of people in Barbados.
“The privilege it infringes is the privilege to pay tax. And that is the privilege that is being defended by the . . . members on the other side,” said Stuart.
The Prime Minister also told Parliament that in creating the Barbados Revenue Authority as a single tax collection agency, his Democratic Labour Party Government was simply continuing that which was started by the previous BLP administration, which he said had accepted a recommendation to establish a Central Revenue Authority (CRA).
“The only change we made to that is to change it from a CRA to a BRA by calling it the Barbados Revenue Authority,” he told the House of Assembly, adding that “we have a Barbados Revenue Authority Act because both sides of the House at different times acknowledged that we had to make more efficient our tax collection in Barbados; that there was too much tax leakage in Barbados, the revenues were suffering as a result, and therefore we had to put a system in place that would capture as many of the revenue defaulters as possible.”