Opposition warns Sinckler of possibility of more court action

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler Tuesday tabled an amendment to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) Act with the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) immediately warning of possible court action, should the Bill be passed into law.

“It will not get the blessing of these Opposition benches in trying to achieve a two-thirds majority. Now, the Minister of Finance hates lawyers but has now developed a new found love for the courts. He is in court tomorrow. He did not go before the Public Accounts Committee, but he is going to court tomorrow,” said Opposition spokesman Dale Marshall, in apparent reference to the recent court action taken by Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell to stop Sinckler from removing him from his post.

“I venture that if this Bill is passed . . . the Minister of Finance will have to go to court a little more,” Marshall insisted.

The Bill, if passed, will require all persons wishing to convey property to first make an application for a tax clearance certificate, which will only be issued if “all taxes, interest and penalties are paid, or if no less than ten per cent of the taxes, interest and penalties, which have been accrued, have been paid, as required under the Income Tax Act, the Land Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Value Added Tax Act”.

The Bill also allows for the issuance of a provisional tax clearance certificate.

However, Marshall complained that there was no public consultation on the Bill, which he said stood to impede the ability of thousands of Barbadians to own a piece of the rock.

He argued that it should be sent before a select committee for “careful” review before it was returned to the House of Assembly for debate.

“It might make his tax collection efficient but it will destroy the financing community in Barbados, it will stop people from selling land, it will remove all those attributes of a modern society that Barbados has claimed as our home. I, for one Mr Speaker, will bow my head in shame if this Parliament were to allow this Bill to pass. Courts eventually determine the constitutionality of legislation. I would urge the minister to take into account the cautionary views of 1,200 or 1,400 trained lawyers,” said Marshall, who is also attorney-at-law.

Just Monday the Barbados Bar Association warned that the proposed amendments to the BRA Act would have “unconstitutional implications” and would “cause more mischief than it cures”.

However, leading off the debate in Parliament Tuesday morning on the proposed amendment, Sinckler defended the move, saying it was time to put a stop to tax evasion.

Sinckler, who has come under immense pressure in recent times over the performance of the economy, dismissed suggestions from lawyers that the changes were unconstitutional.

And while acknowledging that laws were not always perfect, the Minister of Finance said based on “knowledge and advice” there were too many instances of people, who were indebted to Government, able to dispose of property without paying what they owed.

“We have seen that happen on many, many occasions, where people have transactions, some in the millions of dollars, and owing the Government $100,000 or $200,000 in taxes, but take all onto themselves, pay the lawyers and they are happy as they go off to the bank to deposit their fees,” said Sinckler.

10 Responses to Opposition warns Sinckler of possibility of more court action

  1. Hal Austin February 15, 2017 at 5:35 am

    I am still waiting to read a background story on the breakdown of relations between the governor and his board and t he ministry of finance.
    This is an obvious story crying out to be written. It is the basic of informing readers.
    Plse put a couple reporters on the job, talking to the relevant people, on and off the record, for a decent background story. These are the times when good journalism comes to the fore.

  2. jrsmith February 15, 2017 at 6:32 am

    The bill if passed ,would be a step out of the darkness of underhand behavior and (corruption ) of tax avoidance in barbados . which should effect everyone , (Hip , Hip , Hooray)…

    I personally had a nasty experience of this way back , wanting to have brought a project to Barbados , with millions of (US) dollars venture capital financing , to find out how lots of land was registered as in companies in the (Virgin Islands ) to avoid taxes in Barbados , when my consultants dug deep to find out this plot of land we were interested in , owed the (Barbados Revenue ) $ 600,000.00 BDS … which 3 persons were directors in the company…. learnt so much lessons from that , you have got to also watch the banks in Barbados……..

  3. harry turnover February 15, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Marshall what is wrong with that bill ? if someone wants to buy land he/she would know that LAND TAX would have to be paid EVERY YEAR.How is that going to stop people from buying land ? if one does NOT want to pay the taxes then DON’T BUY THE LAND.
    Looks as though you want people to buy land and then don’t pay the taxes.
    ……and wunna say wunna en voting for it ?? wunna serious ? big man it is stunts like these that gine mek people vote DEMS again !

    • Fiona Waldron February 15, 2017 at 7:55 am

      But harry turnover, it is not just land tax that must be paid, it is income tax and vat and every other tax. Suppose you want to sell land and land tax is paid but you have an outstanding issue with BRA on your income taxes or VAT,e.g. you have lodged an appeal about the income tax assessment. With any such matters outstanding, you would not be able to sell your land…..

  4. Loretta Griffith February 15, 2017 at 7:52 am

    As a person with limited intelligence, I must say I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister where the implementation of this bill is concerned.
    This country is on a rapid downward spiral financially and persons are allowed to get away with not paying their fair share of taxes, while Peter has to pay for Paul and Paul for all.
    We all should be truthful, but politicians especially should be very careful how they play to the gallery.
    All of us should pay our fair share of taxes. How can we be promising so much and not encouraging persons to pay their fair share of taxes? Too many fakers and pretenders. Then we would want to fool people that we are upstanding citizens when we can’t even be objective.
    As I listen to the call-in programmes I wonder what have become of all those who were so vociferous in the past and pretended to be denouncing wrong doings. They have all suddenly gone mute.

  5. Ernesta Catlyn February 15, 2017 at 9:01 am

    The Bill in and of itself is not draconian. One of the problems will come in trying to get the clearance certificate in a timely manner. Getting a clearance from BRA is a major headache presently since their records are not well maintained and the system is always giving problems. Wish wunna luck.

  6. RHBB February 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    That’s the real problem, inefficiency at BRA. How long will we have to wait for a Clearance when everything that you want to do now need a tax clearance. Can they handle the workload? I DOUBT IT

  7. RHBB February 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Even better – if BRA owe you tax or VAT refund and haven’t paid it, do we have any protection? Can we add the refund amount on to the price of the property? LOL

  8. Carson C Cadogan February 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, it is simple really just ask your friends and members to pay their taxes and everything will be honky dory.

    What is so difficult about that?

    You seem to be encouraging persons not to pay their taxes, but pay Lawyers instead and go to Court. I am sure that they will pay Lawyers more than they owe in taxes.

    What kind of sense does that make huh Mia?

  9. Loretta Griffith February 15, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    I was surprised to learn that some lawyers wrote bounced cheques, yet were not hauled before the courts, to borrow a phrase, like they do the poor black man. Where is the equity? We really seem to have two BARBADOS, one for the Medes and the other for the Persians.
    It’s time to stop insulting the intelligence of “the poor black man”.
    Though not related, I honestly feel no one should be appointed to a ministry as minister for two consecutive terms without having offered themselves to the electorate, as there is no accountability. You want to hold a ministry face the electorate.
    Secondly, no one should be allowed to get rich on the backs of taxpayers.
    I am all for honest government be it B, D or C.


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