New data tax

New Cell phone tax covers Skype and Whatsapp messaging

Barbadians will begin paying a 22 per cent tax on voice and other transmissions from their cell phones from January 1.

And Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said today the $14 million raised annually would be used to fund university scholarships.

Sinckler gave details of a much talked about “cell phone tax” when he introduced in Parliament this evening the bill to amend the Value Added Tax legislation.

The proposed changes are meant to “increase the efficiency of tax administration, provide for the imposition of Value Added Tax on certain mobile services and enhance the enforcement provisions in the Act and for related matters”.

The Minister informed the House that contrary to popular belief, the imposition would not only affect cell phone calls, but all mobile transmitting services.

He said that following his announcement back in June of his intentions to introduce a tax on cell phone services,  “there was some discourse . . . largely driven by the media in Barbados, that we were just only applying the tax when people make calls in the use of their cellular phones.”

However, he pointed out, “That is one form of mobile airtime.

“In the definitions that were provided mobile airtime was taken to mean all services conducted across the bandwidth on the usage of a cellular phone”.

In fact, Sinckler spoke of “an expanse of capabilities that go beyond calling and sending the average text messages to somebody”.

The Minister noted the range of services to be covered by the new levy included use of the Internet and other transmissions that facilitate
email, Whatsapp, Skype and much more.

Sinckler said that the resulting revenue raised would go towards a soon-to-be announced university scholarship fund, replacing the bursary awards introduced last year as a measure to support students facing challenges to enter university owing to Government’s withdrawal of fee support two years ago.

“We always knew that the bursary system was a temporary one at best and that we would have to find a permanent replacement for that by identifying  . . . resources to assist in those circumstances.”

Sinckler explained that despite the recognised need to fund education, Government was cautious in approaching taxation on mobile services.

“We did it from the perspective not that we want to find additional taxes . . . but we examined the objectives. What is it that you would want to do this for? Can this area of business sustain that imposition, and what would be the outcomes of such an initiative?”

He noted the versatility of the smart phone that enables business and encourages continued capital investment that is good for Barbados.

“Government has to be very mindful of not acting in a manner as to put a brake on the productive advance of cell phone and mobile technology in our economy, because it is such an important part of doing business, making business more efficient and accessible.

“All of these things were in the back of the minds of the administrators and policymakers, certainly in my mind, when we were thinking about the imposition of this particular tax.”

19 Responses to New data tax

  1. Sugarskin Jan
    Sugarskin Jan December 16, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Hmmmm smh

  2. Lloyd P Gulston December 16, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Talk about taxing the crap out of ya. 50 years of Inpendence. Hoohaah!

  3. Sue Donym December 16, 2015 at 8:35 am

    So they’re trying to encourage business by making it more expensive to do business?

  4. D'Olivere December 16, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Man what the…. Look, Smh…

  5. Alex Alleyne December 16, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Men will just have to dig deeper to support the young girls phone habit.

  6. Hallam Hope December 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

    A backward step at a time when we should be using communications more productively to develop marketable content.

  7. Meakai December 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    If there is no subscription to a data plan and people only use wireless to access the Internet, how do you calculate the tax then?

    Will you be calculating the tax based on the amount of time one’s phone is connected to Digicel or Flow’s network?

    What happens when I remove my sim and use only free WiFi?

  8. WAD December 16, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    They soon going to tax the air you breath!! Amazes me that after promising not to end free university education before elections and then doing the opposite and on, and on, and on Bajans are not demanding new representation….Bim being run into the ground and decades of progress being reversed and still nothing….sigh, this I things will continue to get worse.

  9. Lica December 16, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Dis government started in 2008 with Taxes n starting the
    New year 2016 with more taxes pleas all that money Public
    Servant need a Dam Raise of Pay! Is time 2 give back you’ll
    Receiving all the time, Guyana president give all Guyanese
    Public servant n Civil servant $500.00 Xmas Bonus!

  10. Young Bajan December 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Isn’t WhatsApp a free app to mobiles? Will the inventors of WhatsApp be receiving royalties from these taxes? Isn’t taxing a Software that doesn’t belong to you illegal?

  11. The Phanton December 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    A prime example of someone who doesn’t have a clue about modern technology. He can wait, but I am betting that he will collect less taxes.

  12. dave December 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Every December this man spoils your Xmas and News Year with nastiness. He seems to get some morbid satisfaction in punishing the masses. Up to the masses then to be fooled wHen it gets close to Election and he comes with his nasty bag of tricks to fool the masses. So having punished the masses, he will fool the fools the foolish fools and get support cause yuh know what —“Dah is my party boah–man we cant let the party guh down so ” –and foolish so-called DLP supporters who care more about party than Country will rally –IDIOTS !!!

  13. jrsmith December 17, 2015 at 5:38 am

    Welcome to the new year.

  14. jrsmith December 17, 2015 at 6:17 am

    We need not look any further , just to recognize ,our government politicians and advisors, know nothing, beyond (TOURISM), its so easy to count people, and Mr,fix it, comes up again, with this ludicrous idea again , another tax, come the new year, we in Barbados would be tax, if you step of the pavement onto the road in broad street. (I am giving this new tax 6 months).

    This is disaster, the minister, cannot effectively, and efficiently , collect the taxes, which is supposed to be paid, at present, by the few, honest people, in Barbados. we are so educated ,and everything which is child’s play, in the wide world of taxes and collection, becomes a burden and a end of the world situation. for Barbados.

    Who is really gong to benefit from this new tax, not the government , who is going to collect the tax, the cartel is going to put they prices up (Watch this space) bajans are in for a rough ride. in the new year. the major issue we have no competition, in telecoms business in Barbados.

    Do this minister, thinks the internet corporates, who turn’s over in an hour, what it takes to run the regional islands, is going to do nothing, with his stupidity and hit and miss ideas. try this ,try that ,see which works.

  15. Ninja Man December 17, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Can you imagine, they say they’re serious about collecting revenue?

    They setup this B.R.A.; yet when you go to the Pine to pay your driver’s license, there is a notice from Sept 8/9, 2015; saying they are open 8:30 am to 12 pm. No business taking place in the afternoon.

    When you go to pay your land tax, they are not accepting Debit/credit cards! In 2015; there is no online payment option, you cannot pay for these taxes at any of the conveniently located Surepay outlets (however many private enterprises are able to do it because they understand the seriousness of providing easy access to getting their customers to pay their debts whilst reducing their operational costs of not having to hire staff to do this work).

    One of my main concerns is…….How are they going to differentiate this 22% on cell tax, for customers who have their communication services bundled?

    Now, they want to tax you into oblivion, people taking months to get their NIS benefits, they cut some welfare benefits in half. Freeze public workers pay.

  16. dave December 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    This Govt has to be the worst Govt in Barbados’ history
    …And the most spiteful too. This particular was heard to say on a Call in program on VOB that people were buying cell phones and that people were going to Reggae on the Hill so they shoulf be able to pay additional taxes. I was taken aback by his lowlife gutter comment. Now I hear he talking about or hinting at tranfers to statutory corporations , to health care and other things—so LOOKOUT !!!! This Minister is the worst Minister of Finance and the most hated –should lose his seat in the next Election unless of course certain things happen –you know what I am talking bout -Vouchers ! Cell phones! Tablets!

  17. J. Payne December 18, 2015 at 1:23 am

    I’ll stick to my T-Mobile phone.

  18. dave December 19, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I have no intention of using a cell phone so he could as high up his ——— as he like . I dont give a damn !!

  19. dave December 19, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    so he could carry um as high up his ———–


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