Officials involved in the processing of tax refunds have been instructed by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to get people and businesses the money due to them “as soon as possible”.
Acknowledging that the vexing issue of delayed tax refunds has dogged the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) for many years, he said it was about time measures were put in place to bring them up to date.
Sinckler was speaking on Friday at a business stakeholder seminar at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre where the BRA introduced a new Tax Administration Management Information System (TAMIS) that officials hope will significantly improve the island’s tax administration procedures.
He said it was only fair that just as the BRA demanded that individuals and businesses meet their obligation to the agency, it should also meet its obligations to taxpayers.
“If I am asked to pay in and I should pay, then the Barbados Revenue Authority should be in a position, when called upon by law and otherwise, to pay out,” he said.
At the same time, the Finance Minister said while it was a “reasonable conclusion” for individuals and businesses to reach that they only heard from the BRA “loudly when they want payment but they are very silent when they have to pay out”, it was not fair to cast blame on the revenue collection agency.
“I am not going to blame it on the Accountant General because he cannot pay what he doesn’t have. So we have to find a way to break that deadlock, that stalemate, and I have therefore instructed the Ministry of Finance working with the Central Bank, to put in place a system as quickly as possible to ensure that we can get the flow of the funds back to persons in Barbados – give businesses their VAT (Value Added Tax) and Corporation Tax and individuals their tax refunds – and do so in a responsible way that does not cause either disruption to the economy or damage to the financial system,” said Sinckler.
“Sometimes the system gets clogged and I believe it is incumbent on the administration, through the Ministry of Finance and the other entities . . . to find an appropriate and quick solution to the backlog of tax refunds that we have in Barbados, because it is affecting the integrity of the Barbados Revenue Authority,” he added.
The finance minister also urged tax dodgers to make their payments, explaining that the BRA would only be in a position to issue refunds based on collection of owed taxes.
TAMIS, which should be in place by June, will in the first phase be opened to businesses, while individuals will be incorporated in time for tax filing in February 2019.