Band leaders upset over VAT charges

kadooment2013doingdixieinalineSome costume band leaders are today jumping – but not for joy. They are claiming they were hard done by the Value Added Tax Division, after recently receiving the cheques for winning in the various categories of this year’s Grand Kadooment.

One of the affected victorious band leaders said she was angry at the situation, where “not even half, but 60 per cent of my money was taken out (by VAT Division), and they didn’t even notify me.” Preferring at this time to remain anonymnous, she lamented that it had left her in “a rotten financial situation.”

The designer also pledged that if the state of affairs was not rectified, she would not be participating in Crop-Over next year. Another band leader “adversely” affected by the VAT deduction from her award money, admitted that while she was required to pay the tax for the past four years or so, “it looks as if this year, it is more.”

“A lot of us don’t work anywhere, and we should not have to pay VAT,” declared the masquerade costume designer. She said she will be taking up the matter with the VAT Division tomorrow to try to sort it out.

President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders, Roger Millar told Barbados TODAY, he did not have all the details, and that it would be premature to comment at this time. He revealed, however, that a meeting was being held tomorrow with band leaders to discuss the matter.

While not complaining about his prize money being taxed, another leader sought to address the matter in a more general way.

He argued that “we have to stop enforcing the law on people who can’t help themselves. The VAT Department needs to sensitise people they are taxing. There are people who owe the VAT Office money… companies who owe money. If it was a conglomerate who owed taxes, they would have their lawyers to represent them. There should be due process… it’s an abuse of power to persons who can’t represent themselves,” suggested the band leader.

However, another victorious leader in this year’s Grand Kadooment, presented a completely different perspective to the controversy. He informed this newspaper that, he and most other masquerade band leaders had been paying VAT for years now as required, and this year was no exception.

He explained that the issue related only to two band leaders “who have not been paying VAT.”

“We (band leaders) get a subvention, but that is only given, if you pay VAT. But [band leaders] have not been paying VAT, so they were not collecting the subvention. But this year, they gave them (the two leaders) the subvention and them double tricked them, by taking out all the money they had owed for all of them years,” he declared.

He also noted that the VAT Department had been “generous” to them in not “taking the whole 17.5 per cent one time,” but in small amounts. “The VAT Office know how we have been complaining and try not to be hard on us and if they (the two band leaders) come out now and make noise, I guarantee you that next year, they are going to deduct the entire 17.5 per cent,” asserted the band leader.

This paper understands the National Cultural Foundation is having an emergency meeting on Wednesday as a follow up to tomorrow’s session with the Masqueraders Association and its members. However, the band leader was of the view that half of the bands would not be attending, since the issue had nothing to do with them and involved “only two out of 29 bands.”

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