Shut up and act

Private sector wants BRA to go after defaulters

Government’s revenue collection agency must stop “dilly-dallying” and go after businesses and individuals who evade taxes, the country’s oldest private sector grouping has advised.

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is arguing that there is too much talk about the private sector owing Government hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, and too little action by the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to ensure those who owe taxes pay up.

“It is time to stop dilly-dallying and deal with the people that are evading taxes. Let us deal with those people,” BCCI Senior Vice President Ed Clarke told the annual Ernst & Young/BCCI breakfast forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.

Addressing the theme What Businesses Need to Know, Clarke acknowledged that private enterprises should be made to pay their fair share of taxes, especially at a time when Government needed to improve its finances.

However, he said it was up to BRA to use its legal teeth to get the defaulters to live up to their responsibility to the state, including offsetting what Government owes in tax returns to the businesses against what is owed to the state.

“There is an argument if you offset taxes Government will not get any revenue because so much is owed to private enterprises. But let us look at it differently. If the Government continues to say it is owed significantly, hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by private enterprise, go and collect it. You have all the legal rights to go and collect taxes.

“If the Government of Barbados thinks people owe them I encourage the BRA to go out there and collect the taxes that are owed – whether it is land [tax], income tax, corporation tax or Value Added Tax. Stop talking about it and just do it. That is all we want you to do,” the BCCI official emphasized.

Soon after it was established, BRA declared in April 2014 that it would go after all employed people who fail to file tax returns, including those in the “underground economy”.

Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers warned at the time that no one would escape, as the revenue authority intended to deploy an intelligence gathering approach to capture those outside the tax net, adding that while it would  first seek to encourage people to pay up, those who did not would be hit by tough penalties.

There is little evidence to show that BRA has carried out its threat, much to the annoyance of Clarke, who also recommended that those who are part of the country’s unrecorded and untaxed economic activity should be made to pay up.

“We are tired hearing about the unknown quantity of money earners in Barbados, the underground economy, which seems to get away with everything. Let us stop it. If I run a business and I have to file my tax return and I owe $10,000 a year in tax I pay it. If the coconut vendors, the minivan [operators] the food sellers, the traders that come in and trade have taxes to pay, let the BRA go after them,” he repeated.

Clarke also pointed out that Government could make it easier for businesses to pay up by facilitating online transactions.

This prompted a reaction from BRA’s Senior Auditor Neville Clarke, who gave the assurance that the revenue collection agency was working on a new database that would allow for all taxes to be paid online. He did not say how soon.

The BRA official also explained that the complexities of the tax system, including the various databases, “do not permit us to do the offsetting at this moment”.

“It is not that we wouldn’t want to offset, it is that it is difficult and it probably would cost more than it would be worth. But that will be something when we have our new tax system; that will be a feature that we will be able to offset across different taxes.

“When it comes to the underground economy, I am sure that we all would like everybody to pay their fair share of taxes. I can assure you that our revenue commissioner is of the same view and she is, I should say, feverishly working towards getting those things in place, getting her staff up to speed on doing what is necessary to make sure that all taxpayers comply voluntarily. And those who don’t comply voluntarily will be gone after and made to pay their fair share,” he assured.

9 Responses to Shut up and act

  1. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Ouch Ed Clarke is so right on point enough of the stupid yip yapping talk and do something about it.

  2. jrsmith February 23, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Its time most of these people seek new employment ,they just cannot on know anything of management..
    The commissionaire, the senior auditor, needs to find new jobs.. we are so educated and bajans is still shuffling bits of paper around and taking 10 hours for a simple trans action…..

    The question why isn’t the politicians doing their jobs , fat chance because they are the main problem, thats why nothing functions .
    But until things in Barbados evens out this problem will always exist..this is what them and us is doing to our societies..all sucking the life out of everything ……
    Publish the names of the companies who are not paying, also lots of them is not paying to (NIS) millions is owed ….

  3. Sam Clarke February 23, 2017 at 7:25 am


  4. Peter February 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Barbados is so ruthlessly encaptured and enslaved by polarized partisan politics. Party affiliation now sadly represents power and renders certain people and businesses untouchable. The Law is the law. Let the law have no friends, No mercy nor sympathy, Let the Law be not hindered from its dutiful purpose. Get on with it. Publicise, prosecute and punish. Simple.

  5. BimJim February 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    At 68 years young I can tell you that as a young man I knew Barbados as one of the most heavily taxed and most encumbered red-tape-tangled countries in the world. That was a whole 50 years ago, in the 1960’s.

    Here, 50 years later, things in Bados have not improved, they have become worse, with regulation slapped on top of bureaucratic command on top of even more delays to facilitate bureaucratic laziness. 5 hours to renew a drivers licence? Seriously? Simple building permission that takes Town and Country Planning so many decades that people go ahead and build anyway? Seriously?

    I can also tell you that my 68 years produces an infallible observation that whenever there are problems with a country (or a business), look to the top for the problem AND the solution. Not just Barbados, but anywhere people are overtaxed and overmanaged.

    Barbados has so much of an underground economy because that is what is produced by high taxation and too much bureaucracy. As clearly and repeatedly demonstrated, the bureaucracy in our fair land with too many cars is so tightly encumbered by rules, regulations and practices that it can no longer function effectively.

    The natural freedom of our people is being strangled by the armies of occupation – the Civil Service and the politicians.

    Let us face facts, the only taxes the BRA have ever collected are those voluntarily submitted by taxpayers – the BRA has neither the will nor the way to do any more than that, and the underground economy knows it. Bluster and threat may have sounded good at first, but there is nothing there to back it up. It is far easier to sit in a comfortable air conditioned office and move papers around the desk than to go out and do your job properly.

    Continue up the Administrative Tree to the example being set at the very top, where we find an incompetent do-nothing jackass Prime Minister why can bray occasionally but has no teeth. He is surrounded by incompetent do-nothing toothless jackass Ministers, one of whom has earnestly assured the nation year after year that we are on the right track – but that track so far has taken us into the middle of an ocean of debt, now $11 Billion and still rising – and he is still printing money to take us further out on that course.

    Any number of our so-called leaders may tell us that devaluation is not an option, but WHEN that happens I hope our entire national political system will change as drastically as our personal spending power.

    Finally, I suspect that our many and various brainless yard fowls may crow a different tune when they are fed road gravel instead of corn. And that WHEN devaluation does occur they will race around just as aimlessly with their empty heads ON as the real free-range cluckers do with their heads OFF.

  6. NonResidentBaje February 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Lived overseas and had returned home on occasion to work in Bim. Found a lot of lazy public officers giving poor quality service to the public. If they were working in Canada would be fired.
    Bajans and companies dodging paying taxes yet want this free and that free. There should be income tax legislation where Bank Accounts of Bajans and companies not paying taxes should be
    frozen or garnished.
    This government has made Barbados which was one of the most
    progressive socially advanced countries in the Caribbean , now the
    laughing stock of the other islands and countries in the region

  7. Bajan Yankee February 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Government should consider outsourcing the collection of taxes to private sector accounting firms with the proviso that they keep a percentage, to be negotiated, as an incentive. I would bet the backlog will be cleared up.

  8. Ernesta Catlyn February 23, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    The Minister now wake up to the Governor. I wonder how long it will take the Board and him to wake up to this Commissioner. Pretty talk does not equal knowledge. Time to shift through the bulls****

  9. louis walker February 23, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Can the Senior Vice President of B C C I.put his hand on heart and say that all the members of his illustrious club pay their Taxes on time ,and further more ;pay what they owe.
    If the answer as I suspect,is No; then perhaps he should shut -up and stop trying to create a diversion by only highlighting the short-comings of a few coconut vendors, mini-van operators and food sellers.
    All wage earners,unless exempted ,should pay tax on their wages.
    However,the salaried elite usually find ways and means of avoiding their obligations: corporate business employ professional
    so-called Tax Experts
    Do not be hoodwinked by the loud-mouths of the B C C I


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