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Professionals still avoiding taxes

ST. JOHN’S — Only 12 of 50 professionals yesterday heeded government’s call to pay their outstanding back taxes, after their names appeared on a published list yesterday.

But Project Manager of Revenue Reform, Everett Christian, said he was “pleased” with the response of the defaulters to “immediately” settle their debt.

One accountant, seven lawyers and four doctors were among those commended for contacting the department either by phone or in some cases visiting the Inland Revenue Department.

The names of the payees have now been struck off the “name and shame” list. However, 38 names remain.

The notice to the tax delinquents warned that “failure” to act would result in “appropriate action being taken to ensure compliance.”

Christian said the majority of them are guilty of not paying the Personal Income Tax introduced in 2005 or the Antigua & Barbuda Sales Tax, which came into effect two years later.

This means, the revenue manager said, that the IRD will have to conduct a “best of judgement assessment” to determine how much money the professionals owe.

Once this is done, “time will be allotted to the individuals to pay up or appeal,” Christian explained.

Former Bar Association President Hugh Marshall Jr, who also made the list, said he was “disappointed” with the IRD’s tactic. He alleged that the department last communicated with him about tax compliance some time last year during a session held by the lawyers’ organisation.

However, Christian emphasised that there’s “not one person on that list who has not been contacted by Inland Revenue”.

He told this newspaper the names were published after relentless efforts by the IRD to encourage the professionals to update their tax status.

Accountants and attorneys-at-law are required to pay ABST and PIT, while medical practitioners are exempt from the sales tax.

Five accountants, 31 lawyers and 14 doctors were on the initially published list, which has since been amended. (Antigua Observer)

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