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Bandleaders forced to cut back on account of 'harsh" tax policy

Bandleaders, tent managers and party promoters have not escaped the reach of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) again this Crop Over.

These seasoned Crop Over entrepreneurs are crying out, saying that BRA is being too harsh on them.

The situation has forced at least one veteran bandleader to scale back on his production for this year’s festival.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Chetwyn Stewart, leader of the popular Power X 4 band, revealed that he had been forced to produce less costumes this year because of the taxes being imposed on him by BRA.

Chetwyn Stuart

Chetwyn Stuart

“It has even affected my orders. I’m making fewer costumes this year for sure. I can’t afford to be left back with costumes this year at all,” he said.

“If I give them away or sell them cheap I still have to pay [VAT]. So it affects all the promoting and all the events. This is a serious problem,” he added.

“If after Kadooment I am left with costumes, and I decide to sell those costumes that are worth $20 000 for $2 000, I still have to pay VAT on the $20 000, the full thing. That is what we are having a problem with,” Stewart explained.

Calling the measures “ridiculous”, he made it clear that while those involved in the Crop Over Festival did not mind paying VAT, the list of items on which they had to pay the 17.5 per cent tax was continually growing.

“No one has a problem with paying the VAT, it’s just now you have to pay VAT on things you didn’t have to before.”

Stewart said one of their main issues was the fact that they were also being forced to pay VAT on costumes, even if that costume was being made for a sponsor.

As it related to the promoters, the veteran bandleader said they were being made to pay VAT even if they decided to let people in free to their events.

He also criticized BRA for charging VAT on giveaways done to help promote and market an event.

Another bandleader, who opted to remain anonymous for fear of victimization, said he felt BRA was being too harsh on the Foreday bands where registration was concerned.

“The question is, why the hot pursuit for VAT . . . which is maybe $26 on a $150 costume, which when offset might be none at all?”            

Barbados TODAY understands that the bandleaders were scheduled to meet with Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley two weeks ago to discuss some of their issues.

However, the outspoken bandleader said the Minister never showed up, but chose to send a representative instead.

One irate tent manager, who also requested anonymity, said the officials at BRA simply did not understand what it took to manage a tent.

“The tents do not make a profit. Managers do the work for the love of it. So to insist that the tents pay VAT and especially on complimentary tickets is madness and unfair,” he complained.

“The authorities at BRA definitely do not have an understanding of the running of a tent . . . like paying performers, paying the band etc. Gate receipts for tents cannot cover the expenditure, especially since sponsorship is not what it was before,” he insisted, adding that those who continued to put on tents were doing it for love of Crop Over.

BRA Commissioner Margaret Sivers as she exited Government headquarters yesterday.

BRA Commissioner Margaret Sivers as she exited Government headquarters yesterday.

Just two weeks ago, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had insisted that BRA was simply doing its job.

He said for years, bandleaders and promoters had been abusing the VAT system.

“The BRA is trying to collect the taxes that is due to the Government of Barbados and people must understand that.

“We are developing very slowly, or very quickly depending on how you look at it, a culture where people believe that they should not be paying taxes and they should have events and put on shows and sell things and not pay taxes . . . all that the BRA is doing is enforcing the law” Sinckler had said.

4 Responses to BRA EFFECT

  1. Patrick Blackman June 3, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Great news BRA, keep the good work up. This is what we need, that old story about a black man need a break and the rest of that crap needs to go. YOU GENERATE REVENUE, PAY YOUR TAXES.
    If everyone did this we wouldn’t have over 400M outstanding which could employ people.

  2. Watchman June 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    @ Blackman, it seems as if you have some far fetched notion that a for profit organisation should be taxed and should pay tax.

    What I dont understand myself, is that it is known ahead of time the tax rates for a given tax year, so how it is that people act surprised that they have to pay taxes and also claim not to have money to pay ?
    The guys portrayed in the article are difficult to take seriously.

  3. Patrick Blackman June 3, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    @Watchman – what ever entity you are and you are captured under the tax system , then you should pay your assessed taxes where applicable. Bajans feel that they can earn money all over the place and not pay taxes on it and cry out how hard it is. If you didn’t earn income then you would not have to pay taxes (income tax).

    Taxes are the means by which governments earn revenue to run the country. some governments do a good job in using that money and others don’t but that does not mean we should dodge the taxes.

    Its about time the BRA got the to enforce the laws of B’dos, now as a people we have to get the balls to remove the fools from the political scene.

  4. jus me June 4, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Listen!! Idiot.


    Read what you like into that.


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