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Tax defaulters called upon to pay up

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Tax defaulters are once again being called on to pay up.

The call has this time come from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who said on Tuesday during a national address, that some $200 million is owed in arrears of taxes of all categories, interest and penalties (see full speech on pages 16 & 17).{{more}}

“Too many of the taxpayers, including large and medium-sized taxpayers, simply do not pay their taxes as required under the law. Some big businesses, including a few with significant cross-border trading, do not pay all of their due taxes,” Gonsalves said in the address.

He stressed that own-account businesses, including professionals, have become notorious for not paying their fair share of taxes.

“In all of this, too, it is to be noted that the compliance rate for VAT is falling; a significant number of property-owners, including in certain geographical areas, are not paying property taxes; and many owners of motor vehicles are not paying their motor vehicle licences; these are also driving their vehicles uninsured. I am publicly urging the offending citizens and residents to make satisfactory arrangements with the Tax Authorities to pay up their arrears in taxes and to keep current with their tax obligations.”

Gonsalves stressed that he is also demanding that the Tax Authorities administer the tax laws with fairness and firmness.

“It is simply unfair that some persons get away from paying their due taxes while others have to carry the burden. Further, the Government cannot properly execute its necessary and desirable programmes if taxes are not being paid by so many persons,” the Prime Minister said.

During the address, Gonsalves also called on employers to pay to the National Insurance Services (NIS) the money they have deducted from their employees’ salaries or wages.

“The NIS ought to get tough on such recalcitrant employers”, said the Prime Minister.

Gonsalves, who is also the Minister of Finance, said that there are enough challenges and difficulties facing our small country for us to be making our lives more problematic with unproductive labour and management, mayhem on the roads, violent crimes, burglaries, theft of farmers’ commodities, and non-payment of due taxes and NIS contributions.

“The challenges from the global economy, the fall-out from international terrorism, and destructive natural disasters are added to the existing limitations of a small-island, developing country with its scarcity of material resources, and its abundant vulnerabilities.”

He stressed that we, as Vincentians, make things more difficult for ourselves when we pile on internally-induced problems which we can easily avoid.(LC)