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VAT office tells tents officials: Let’s talk

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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THE VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) office can’t cut the levies on CROP-OVER entertainment enterprises but it can make it easier for them to pay up.This reminder comes on the heels of the most recent plea for VAT relief for Crop-Over enterprises at the launch of the Celebration Time Calypso Tent at the Plantation Garden Theatre last Tuesday night.A VAT office source told the DAILY NATION that while the department was not empowered to offer waivers or the like, Crop-Over stakeholders could meet with an officer and work out a suitable payment plan.“If you are indebted to the VAT office the first thing you do is call the VAT office. We will meet with you, we will set up a payment plan for you, and allow you to pay in installments,” the source said.He added: “We are always open to them. We are always telling them come in, do what they’re supposed to do, we will work with them. The VAT office will work with them to ensure that we administer the VAT Act in the right way. We are always willing to work with anybody . . . because we know the economic situation, and under the direction of the Ministry of Finance we will set up those sort of agreements.” Even though the VAT office has systems in place to assist clients, the source said they usually advised people to pay the money within the prescribed time frame to avoid any penalties. There is a ten per cent charge imposed on people who default, $100 for those who don’t file and a monthly one per cent on all outstanding amounts.Tony Hoyos, who is part of the Celebration Time management team, made an impassioned plea for Prime Minister and Minister of Finance David Thompson to slash the required 15 per cent VAT by half, which would bring the cultural industries in line with what was required for hotels.He noted that Crop-Over was started as a means to bring tourists to the island in the down period, and that the industry accounted for close to 50 per cent of the local economy.Businesses such as calypso tents are an integral, important attraction, without which Crop-Over would be a lot less attractive product to those visitors. While the tents are suffering, the tourists that the music brings into the island stay in hotels which pay VAT at 7.5 per cent year-round on those tourists accommodations,” he explained.Hoyos called on Government to not only reduce the VAT on tents to 7.5 per cent, but on “all the cultural activities that take place at Crop-Over”.He said he had heard a lot of talk about the cultural industries over the years, but no concrete action has been taken as yet.“The patient is dying, and the doctors are standing around scratching their heads and talking about which medicine they think he might need. The patient will be dead by the time you get round to it,” he said.With judging set to get under way tomorrow and several tents yet to open their doors, Hoyos is predicting that none of the 11 tents will make money this year. (YB)