Double the take
Government’s latest tax amnesty continues to rake in big bucks. Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, has revealed that the latest numbers show more than double what Government had earmarked for collection was paid in by Barbadians earlier this year as a result of the original amnesty.
“It was much more than we anticipated. We had penciled in for about $20 million to be paid, and we ended up with more than $40 million,” he revealed.
And millions more could be entering the Consolidated Fund when an extension to that amnesty ends on Thursday. “I haven’t received the most recent figures for the extension period, but the amount paid in during the previous amnesty was quite substantial,” Sinckler said.
In February this year, the minister had indicated near $30 million had been collected.
“If it continues to trend in that direction it would be a success. I want to thank Barbadians for taking part in the programme. We probably won’t have another amnesty for a little while, because you don’t need to have one every few months. But that Barbadians did participate, we are happy about that. We will have to wait a few months to see what is the total impact in terms of revenue gained, but because the first one did so well, I think it was a good step,” said Sinckler, who is also Minister of Economic Affairs.
The minister said though no short-list had been prepared Government had certain priority areas where the money would be spent, inclusive of the important health and tourism sectors.
He added that though Government introduced the amnesty, he was satisfied Barbadians continue to pay their taxes.
“Barbados generally has a tax collection rate around 70 per cent, which is pretty good for a country of our size, or any size for that matter, but you want to get close to 100 per cent as possible, and one of the issues identified is the inefficiencies in of our tax system. These things have been highlighted from way back.”
Earlier this month, Sinckler signed off on a $30 million loan from the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) aimed at reforming the BRA’s tax system, which should decrease Government being forced to introduce amnesties in the future, since better collection methods are expected within the next 24 months.
With the latest amnesty extension ending on Thursday taxpayers in arrears can benefit from the waiver of penalties and interest on taxes owed to the BRA.
The taxes eligible for the waiver of penalties and interest in that amnesty programme were Value Added Tax (VAT), Land Tax, Income Tax, P.A.Y.E. and Corporation Tax. (BA)