The Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is about to embark on a massive registration exercise to ensure all business operators are paying their fair share of taxes.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced Tuesday that as a matter of policy, BRA would, in the comings months, be establishing a special task force to carry out the exercise with the help of University of the West Indies and Barbados Community College graduates.
“Government is fully cognizant of the often repeated and very legitimate charge that part of the issue with revenue collection in Barbados lies in the fact that too many people fall outside the net. These persons can be found across all classes of persons and businesses in the country, yet they are able to enjoy the benefits which the tax dollars of a shrinking pool of taxpayers contribute to,” said Sinckler.
“Indeed empirical evidence has shown that the smaller the tax base the greater the pressure on Government to increase the rates to get the required revenues to manage the country. This is an issue that has dogged tax authorities in Barbados for a number of years but one which we now have to decisively deal with,” he said.
As such, Sinckler said the special task force “will work in collaboration with a competent private sector tax firm to establish a national tax administration registration initiative, aimed principally at ensuring all of those persons who are operating businesses, are self-employed, sole traders or professionals and artisans are registered with the BRA and brought into the tax net”.
He said his ministry would provide the revenue-collecting agency with the required human, financial and technological resources necessary to execute the programme.
Delivering the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, Sinckler also reiterated that the tax clearance certificate requirement will remain in place. He also reported that following a meeting with the Barbados Bankers’ Association and BRA they seemed to have reached “some reasonable agreement on how the issue of the requirement of tax clearance certificates are to be dealt with”.
He added that an official announcement on the matter would be forthcoming “very shortly”.
In recent weeks, the Bankers’ Association has been raising a stink over the tax measure, saying the delays and lack of clarity regarding the issuance of tax certificates were holding up over $220 million in investment in real estate-related transactions.
However, Sinckler said the major challenges have since been identified and there seemed to be an appropriate resolution.
“Very shortly communication will be issued to the public as to what those resolutions are and any action which Government is expected to take. The Government will take those actions to ensure that the law is carried out and implemented as designed,” he said, while assuring that “the original and continuing objective of this Government is not to harass anybody to pay taxes.
“It is our duty to pay the taxes to the Government. Our job is not to stop transactions, to slow down business, but to get people to honour their commitment and recognize and acknowledge their liabilities to the Crown, and that is the only thing that Government wants to do in this respect,” he said.