$12m tax write-off; $19m tax collected in amnesty

Saturday June 22, 2019 Written by Published in Economy
A controversial tax amnesty has succeeded in recovering $19.4 million in unpaid  tax, to the delight  of the finance ministry. A controversial tax amnesty has succeeded in recovering $19.4 million in unpaid tax, to the delight of the finance ministry.

A controversial tax amnesty has succeeded in recovering $19.4 million in unpaid tax, to the delight of the finance ministry.

NEARLY 1200 recalcitrant taxpayers have applied to have old taxes and penalties written off – in return for agreeing to pay their main outstanding taxes.

Financial secretary Garth Henderson says he is pleased the eight-month amnesty allowed taxpayers with big debts to come forward, and be compliant with their tax obligations into the future.

As well as the $19.4 million that these taxpayers have stumped up in the amnesty period, they have agreed to pay $2.4 million more over a period of time.

A total $12.4 million of additional tax was remitted as a result of the Tax Amnesty applications. This included $10.4m in very old unpaid taxes, from before January 2010.

When the amnesty was announced in 2017, finance minister Mark Brown acknowledged government was owed nearly $36m in tax debt, of which $11 million was classified as being irrecoverable.

He was criticised. Public accountant Mike Carr said it was wrong, and that workers and businesses who had paid their taxes should be asking why their neighbours were being let off. “Where is the equity of enforcement?” he asked. “What influence have politicians and influential business people had on the administration of our tax laws?

Now, the amnesty is being hailed as successful.

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Last night, Chamber of Commerce president Fletcher Melvin said the amnesty had provided businesses a good opportunity to pay their debts.

“It allowed companies some time to pay off their debts,” he explained, “which is better than forgiving their taxes because it would be unfair on other businesses who comply and pay their taxes to government.”

Now, he said, was the time for the government to assess whether it could afford a short-term tax break right across the board.

“I think a short-term tax break will allow people to have more money in their pockets which they can use for their families, education and eventually contribute more towards the economy with higher spending power.”

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