Dutch State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers has promised Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba that he will check if it is possible to adapt the fiscal system for 2013, if there is room in the budget to do so. Weekers stated this in a letter that he sent to the Executive Councils of the three Dutch “public entities” earlier this week. The letter is in response to last week’s walk-out action of delegations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The delegations left the meeting at the Dutch Ministry of Finance in protest because they were not provided the total figure of taxes collected on the islands in 2011.
According to the Ministry the figures were not available as yet. Weekers said he would strive to get insight in the possibilities within the scope of the budget to propose adaptations to the fiscal system via the 2013 Tax Plan. If the definite 2011 figures took too long, he would take action based on interim figures. If the budgetary room is available, Weekers will, after consultation with the island governments and based on the conclusions of the intra-departmental analysis, check which “concrete measures” could be implemented per January 1, 2013 to further improve the islands’ fiscal system.
In the letter, Weekers explained that the 2011 were not yet available because the 2011 income tax returns still had to be submitted. Based on those returns, some tax payers will receive a refund while others will have to pay extra. “It is not possible to indicate the extent of the refund in wage tax and the additional payment of income tax,” he stated.
Furthermore, it is not clear how much the property tax (vastgoedbelasting) over 2011 will yield because the assessment of the amount that will have to be paid for the targeted properties has not yet taken place, explained the State Secretary.
“As a result the total revenue of taxes collected in the Caribbean Netherlands cannot be determined,” said Weekers. “No definite conclusions can be drawn as long as the total revenues are not known.” He said that clarity was needed to determine whether there was room for additional compensation. He promised to inform the islands and the Second Chamber as soon as he had the figures.
The State Secretary called the conclusion of National Representative (Rijksvertegenwoordiger) for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba Wilbert Stolte about the 2011 tax figures “premature to say the least.” Stolte had stated in his second progress report that preliminary results over 2011 showed that the tax revenues were much higher than anticipated. “I leave this comment for his account,” said Weeker .
Weekers stated in his letter that he “lamented” the action of the islands to walk out of the meeting with his civil servants; a meeting which he said could not attend due to other commitments. He said the action “didn’t fit in the context” in which the new fiscal system for the islands was developed. Consultations to prepare and implement the new fiscal system have been “very regular and constructive,” according to Weekers. During that process it was also agreed that there would be an annual meeting to discuss whether there was a need to adapt the fiscal system. He reminded the islands that various measures had been taken in the period October 2011 to January 2012 to alleviate the tax burden.
The State Secretary said in the agreement with the islands that he would stick to the agreement that the new fiscal system should yield ‘grosso modo’ the same amount of tax revenues as was generated under the previous Antillean tax structure. According to that agreement, the surplus collected in national taxes (Rijksbelastingen) will be returned to the islands in the form of tax breaks.
Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-03-24