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Drastic changes at BRA


Drastic changes at BRA

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I AM CONCERNED as to whether the new administration is fully aware of the major change taking place at the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).

The new Tax Administration Management Information System (TAMIS) came into operation from June 1 for all companies and businesses, with a requirement for tax to be filed from June 15 – personal taxes are included next year.

Very little notice has been given to the public for very major changes in how corporation tax, VAT, NSRL, PAYE, excise taxes and so on will be filed. Many persons – who handle only payroll for small businesses – may not even have realised it affects them as PAYE has not previously been included in online filing.

The time period for this new software implementation is prohibitively short and will not allow for a smooth transition.

I am appealing to the new administration to make themselves aware of the changes taking place and consider allowing a longer period for registration in the new system. At least two or three months should be allowed to complete the complicated registration, allow for more public information to be issued by the BRA to clear up some of the confusion, whilst continuing filing on the old system – with the new system coming into use August or September 15.

Persons were asked to attend one three-hour training session beginning from May 2 to May 31. I attended May 17. Others I contacted, including professional accountants doing corporation tax for businesses, attended much later – May 24 or 25 – which gave them only a few days to gather all the information necessary and prepare to register their many clients’ businesses between June 1 and 15 in time to start filing on June 15.

There is a complicated set-up where each accountant, professional or employed, needs to register a group account, under which they register the businesses for which they are responsible. They then register the various aspects of the business (VAT, PAYE, etcetera) which they complete, entering the tax identification number (TIN) and name of the external accountant who does the companies’ corporation tax.

External tax agents were advised, during our training session, to apply in advance for their TIN, by letter, so they could provide their various clients with this information in order for the companies’ employed accounting staff to complete their registration in time to begin filing June 15.

Some training sessions seemed to omit this as persons I have spoken to were not aware they needed to give their TIN to clients in time for the two-week registration period.

Other professional accountants have assured their clients’ staff not to worry as they (the external tax agent) would be registering the client’s business. As I understand it, both entities have to register the business for the aspects of taxation for which they are responsible and cross reference each other’s information in the appropriate section of the online form.

The persons to whom I have spoken about this seem to have different understandings of the requirements, which is not surprising, given the brief training sessions and the rushed nature of the implementation.

There is a large amount of information to be gathered from certificates of incorporation and dates, such as the first date on which VAT, PAYE was filed. This information may not be available to persons not long employed with the organisation and research will be necessary to obtain all required data to complete the registration. To have this finished in a two-week period is almost impossible, except for small owner-managed businesses where the owner will have all the data necessary, especially where you are registering more than one business.

The fact that the time period is extremely short has been recognised by the BRA which advised that you pay the relevant tax on time, then complete and file when the information is available.

The problem with this is that you will not have the necessary forms, or reference numbers to accompany the payment which will go in under the old TIN. There will be major confusion in later allocating these payments when the new TIN is issued.

We were also informed that the current VETAS and e-tax systems will not be available as of May 31. Taxpayers will not have access to any data on these systems after that date. Only a balance will be carried forward and all history and documents in the system will be lost to the taxpayer.

When asked why the rush to close down the old system and not give taxpayers more notice and time to complete the new registration, when obviously this could cause much confusion and delays in filing, they answered that Government did not wish to incur further expense on software licences for both systems.

Since taxpayers will no longer have access to their online records from previous filings and payments, I think it only fair that the public be informed where and how these records will be stored, and who will have access since the software licence is not being renewed.