Pay up or else
Minister outlines a zero tolerance policy to tax evasion
Describing the level of tax avoidance and its non-payment as epidemic, the Minister of Finance this evening put all currrent and prospective delinquent persons on notice.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Chris Sinckler issued a strong warning, that if needed, he would bring legislation that gives the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) more teeth to get the culprits.
“There is now rising, almost to a level, an uncomfortable level of tax avoidance and non-payment of taxes in Barbados and it is becoming routine. And we have to let people understand that that is not the basis on which the society can be run,” Sinckler contended.
“And if the issue of issuing tax clearance certificates is raised, I as Minister of Finance, this Cabinet has to hold the position that without ostensibly ill-treating or preventing people from doing the business that they have to do, have to make people understand that they have to pay their fair share of taxes; and that’s the reality,” he added.
“I know that there has been this debate about tax clearance certificates being issued or not being issued by the BRA [Barbados Revenue Authority]. I can say to this Honourable House . . . we have spoken and the BRA is not going to hold up in any certificates.
“I have told them that consistently with the law, as I have been advised, once people pay their taxes, whether it’s land tax or whatever, they should issue the certificates,” the Minister of Finance said.
“Whoever feels they are holding up and I don’t know that the BRA is holding up anybody, but if they are, I told them that those certificates should be released, so people can get on with their transactions,” Sinckler told the House.
“But I want to make the point though, if it becomes necessary, I am prepared to bring an amendment to this House of Assembly and fight it through, that the Barbados Revenue Authority be given the appropriate authority to ensure that persons . . . that this situation where people believe that they can avoid X tax and do Y business and just go along with it, cannot be done,” he warned.
The Minister contended that Government must give our authorities the requisite powers to ensure that people pay their taxes.
“It is not fair, it is not fair, it cannot be fair that X person will do a land tax transaction for say, $100,000, execute that transaction, take the $100,000 and owe Inland Revenue or VAT $20,000 and refuse to pay it. “I am saying that that cannot be fair or right in this society.”
Sinckler said he told the BRA that whatever powers they have, including having to do audits, then do it.
“If you have to go and check people’s books, check them. If you have to write to people, write to them, if you have to call them in, call them in and where you can legitimately and legally block them, block them,” Sinckler declared.
The bill was passed.