The minority Opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has thrown its support behind an amendment to the Income Tax Act to reinstate the reverse tax credit.
The UPP’s only parliamentary representative, Dr Maria Agard, today told the House of Assembly the measure, which applies to people earning $25,000 or less during an income year, was welcome relief for “some of the most vulnerable, marginal members of our society”.
“They are usually single and young, carry the responsibility of a family on their back without extended support from grandparents, aunts and uncles because the demographic of the island is changing, and in many cases only earn about $200 a week,” the Member of Parliament for Christ Church West said in her contribution to the debate.
She said during times of austerity shared responsibility among the electorate was difficult because “there are always people who will be able to withstand hard times better than others”.
“I support this measure, but you need to look at the possibility of taking it further and making up for the lost years. If you cannot do it for this year, do it over a period of years,” she stressed.
Meantime, Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central James Paul noted that those in lower income brackets appeared to bear the brunt of measures introduced to deal with economic difficulties.
However, he said it was important “to look at priorities”.
“Yes, we had to make some sacrifices, but we made sure we kept essential social services like free bus travel for schoolchildren and senior citizens, school meals and health care, even though some people were saying we should get rid of them,” Paul said.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, who introduced the measure, said: “Taxation is not something permanent, it can be altered once conditions become better. Governments try to shield the most vulnerable people in society though this does not always work, but in the end that additional tax revenue goes towards keeping our essential services intact.”
Barbadians filing their income tax returns this year, and who fall under the $25,000 threshold, can apply for the reverse tax credit.