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Farley: BRA must chart clear course

Shawn Cumberbatch

Farley: BRA must chart clear course

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The umbrella body for more than 800 local chartered accountants is urging the new Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to urgently establish “a single pay window” so taxpayers no longer have to “run from pillar to post” to pay their dues and recoup refunds.
And while making it clear that he did not share the pessimism about BRA voiced by some commentators, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) executive director, Reginald Farley, predicted it would be at least “a couple of years” before the agency made its “full impact”.
BRA became operational at the beginning of this month, coinciding with the start of Government’s new financial year. It consolidates the functions of the Inland Revenue Department, Land Tax Department, the Value Added Tax and Excise Divisions of the Customs and Excise Department and the revenue collecting aspect of the Barbados Licensing Authority.
Speaking during an interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY, Farley said ICAB welcomed the new organisation and was pleased that its management included several experienced and qualified professionals.
But he said rather than simply inheriting what they found at its predecessors, BRA needed to “give priority attention” to some important matters.
“We expect that as a matter of priority they will introduce what is known in the business as the single tax pay window so where a company comes up you can see what that company owes across the range of taxes that come under the Barbados Revenue Authority, and you could also see what the Barbados Revenue Authority owes to the company in terms of refunds and that they can be set off against one another,” he said.
Failing this, the former minister of industry and international business cautioned, Government’s would continue to pass on its own cash flow problems to the business community.
“So Government really cannot and should not add to cash flow difficulties by having businesses in a situation where they are breaking the law on one hand by not paying taxes, but they have tax refunds due which they are not receiving.
“With the multiple agencies that was a complication, but with a single agency then we expect that this single tax pay window should become a priority and we look forward to the Barbados Revenue Authority turning immediate attention to that,” he added.
The official also identified the ability to pay taxes online and the adequate functioning of its tribunal, including regularly published decisions, as key in the new BRA dispensation.
Farley, who urged Government to ensure the agency was properly staffed and financed, said it would be unreasonable for the public to expect an immediate transformation in revenue collection and revenue disbursement.
“As with all mergers in the private sector or public sector you will find that the merger occurs at the top level and then that has to be cascaded down to the entities. So it will take a couple of years really I think for us to see the full impact and the kind of disappearance of the individual entities and the emergence of the single entity in all of its manifestations,” he said.