“Mr. Speaker Sir, over the last year we have heard of many issues raised by the OECD with regard to peer reviews and exchange of information and Barbados being placed on a “grey list”. The low level of filing by tax payers in Barbados also has been raised as an issue and one which we have to concede is a spot of bother for domestic tax authorities.
We therefore propose a set of additional measures to encourage all applicable Barbadians to get into the routine of filing their returns even if a refund is not due.
It is also proposed that effective tax year 2011 the late filing fee will be increased from one hundred dollars ($100) to five hundred dollars ($500). This measure is not for revenue generation purposes but to increase the level of compliance with the Income Tax Act with respect to filing whether or not a tax refund is due.
Additionally, as is well known to this House and further afield, it has become almost folklore the stories of the non-filing of income tax and payment of national insurance and VAT by some among the professional class in Barbados. Indeed only recently the Prime Minister in a debate in this very House was moved to make and appeal to some among the professions and self-employed to make their contributions to the various state agencies as legally required. The Commissioner of Inland Revenue is already on record lamenting his utter frustration in getting compliance in these matters, and several international agencies and many of our key Double Taxation Treaty Partners have complained about the low level of tax filling and information available in Barbados.
It is a matter of the gravest concern to this government and our regulators, as it has the potential to cause Barbados to lose good standing internationally and face possible sanctions.
Given this situation and the need to ensure that everybody not only makes their fair contribution to our national recovery efforts but most importantly that they bring their fillings up to date, I will shortly propose to Cabinet a series of measures designed to impose the severest penalties on the most egregious offenders for non-filling of income tax, and the payment of VAT in particular. When one considers the fact that between these two departments, the outstanding arrears amount to more than $600 million, the public will realise what an embarrassment this is for a country of Barbados’ standing.” Read the full speech on Nationnews.com.
I could be wrong and the Minister probably knows more about human nature than I do, but I do not believe that persons who never intended to file a return will now do so just to avoid paying a $500.00 late fee.
If the Minister really wanted to increase compliance, he would have proposed measures to tackle tax evasion there and then. Procrastination is not permitted when a country of “Barbados’ standing”, is embarrassed by powers that be that are either impotent or incompetent.
Call it what you will Mr. Minister, but this measure is designed to give the impression that Government is doing something to address the concerns of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. However the reality that you are targeting sprats and the big snappers will continue on their merry way, is as clear as a full moon at midnight on a hot summer night.
It would be great if Minister Sinckler in addition to increasing the late fee, ensured that the Inland Revenue Department issued refunds to taxpayer in a more timely manner. The six months or more it now takes to process returns is unacceptable and will be a bitter pill to swallow in the future.
Anyway, this administration increased road taxes and motorist are now avoiding an ever-increasing number of bad roads and the lines at the Licensing Authority are no shorter than they were before the increases, so swallowing bitter pills should be a national pastime by now.
“Public Sector Reform” another meaningless empty slogan.