Saba Business Association (SBA) president Wolfgang Tooten is lobbying against what he described as discriminatory property tax collection, writes The Daily Herald. He recently met with Caribbean Netherlands tax department official Gerard Meijer to discuss the issue and also wrote a letter to Member of the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber Wassila Hachchi of centredemocrat D66. In the letter, Tooten wrote that the tax office collected property tax from only few businesses. He described this as “an unfair, discriminatory practice and an intrusion into the free market.” Tooten claimed that only few businesses and individuals were assessed, and that “after three years only 25 per cent of businesses have to pay, while others have not even received an assessment.” SBA has sent a formal complaint to the tax office and Ombudsman, but these claimed not to have received any. Tooten incidentally met Meijer in a St. Maarten hotel and requested clarification. Tooten said he was explained that in cases in which the tax department could not assess the property value by 2013, and therefore could not send assessments, these businesses would not be taxed retroactively for 2011. Speaking on behalf of SBA businesses that paid taxes, Tooten argued that this longstanding discrepancy in treatment of businesses amounts to discriminatory taxation at the whims of low-level tax department civil servants. “Only because they pretend they cannot find the other people, some get tax exemption,” said Tooten, adding that the tax strikes a difference between foreign owners of property who have all property titles registered and appraised versus the many whose jointly-inherited family titles make taxation improbable.
SBA intends to challenge the selective treatment in Court, especially the continued taxation of the few who adhere to the law, while amnesty is applied to others. “The incapacity of the tax department to implement the tax amounts to state condoned discrimination,” said Tooten, defining it as a “state intrusion in the free market, giving unfair advantages to some business, while burdening precisely those that seek to be in compliance with the law.” As business manager of Scout’s Place bar and restaurant in Windwardside, Tooten also requested a return of tax money already paid or a credit to the equal amount for 2013. Until the tax department is capable of implementing the tax collection in an unbiased manner, SBA requests that “it shouldn’t engage in taxation it cannot fairly enforce. Taxing only a few people is discriminatory.” Tooten’s criticism does not apply to State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers, who he applauded for his “smart and pragmatic” approach. “I think he really understands us, but I am not so sure he really knows what is happening in implementation and that they are really taxing only a few people. I think Mr. Weekers should be looking into this because it is not fair.”
Other local challenges outlined in the letter to Hachchi, include high import taxes, the General Spending Tax ABB “selectively burdening” the hospitality and tourism sector, alleged labour market “red tape” imposed by the immigration department and government’s “disappointing” response to the private sector’s offer to raise the minimum wage. SBA also voiced concerns about the intentions to curtail voting rights in local elections to non-Dutch residents. The letter also noted the high cost of telecommunication, electricity services and cost of living and requested that local stakeholders be included in the constitutional evaluation process.
Wolfgang and other owners of enterprises can get help to get back the taxes that has been paid. It is indeed completely unacceptable that some have been obliged to pay, where others did not simply because the government has not been able to make an assessment on the value of all properties. The tax should have been raised not before all values of properties had been decided upon (and even those decisions are open for legal objections by the way).
When you like to have support, then read this. Wolfgang should be able to translate it I suppose.
By the way: I already forwarded the complaint to mr.Ferdy Roet.
De Stichting Meldpunt Collectief Onrecht (SMCO) staat voor daadkracht en een eerlijke samenleving. SMCO maakt zich hard voor iedereen, particulier of zakelijk, die benadeeld is door het handelen van een (groot) bedrijf, multinational of (semi-)overheid. SMCO doet niet alleen onderzoek, maar onderneemt ook daadwerkelijk juridische acties gericht op slachtoffers van kartels en overige collectieve misstanden. Met als doel deze slachtoffers financiële genoegdoening te geven en doelgericht specifieke collectieve procedures aan te spannen. Voorbeelden hiervan zijn collectieve acties tegen T-Mobile, DSB Bank, de Staatsloterij en tegen de overdrachtsbelasting bij Rijksmonumenten. SMCO is telefonisch bereikbaar via 072-7529494 of via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noot voor de redactie.
Voor meer informatie: mr. Ferdy Roet B.Ec, telefonisch via 072-7529494 of 06-22278000. Via e-mail email@example.com of mevr. Mr. Charissa Breeveld firstname.lastname@example.org
Go Wolfgang….. it is finally time to stand up to discriminatory practices such as these. It seems to me that ex-pats (with rental cottages), businesses owned by non-Sabans and the Medical School have all been the target of taxation while others have been allowed to slip by. Hooray …. finally a voice in the Wilderness!!!
This is not to say that some Saban businesses are not paying and I applaud the ones who have been paying but if you are going to have a property tax then do it for all and not just for the few you have been able to assess. There should be no tax until all can be taxed across the board. ‘Hummm’ the Dutch seem to be violating their own ethics of equality and fairness that they are so proud of….. LOL
The Dutch Foundation “Stichting Meldpunt Collectief Onrecht” has offered to help in this case.
Wolfgang is asked to deliver info and evidence for the complaints before the 10th of February and the there will be contct with the lawyers of that foundation that is fighting this kind of injustice. I offered to assist if any help from my part can be used.