Tuesday , March 28 2023

Tax info session triggers political reaction

The Daily Herald writes that the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) and Industry of St. Eustatius and Saba issued a press release following a tax information session held at the Saba Tax Department office on Tuesday, March 4. The “customer panel” discussions were facilitated by the Caribbean Netherlands Tax Department BCN representatives from St. Eustatius who intended to create clarity about tax implementation. The poor coordination regarding the postponement of the announced BCN session led to confusion and low attendance.

The Saba CoC representatives stated that among the priority topics discussed were the tax exemptions pertaining to article 6.10 of the BES tax laws. “Concerning the exemption we were informed that we would be notified at a later date concerning the possible implementation of the tax exemptions. Angel Bermudez, the head of the Caribbean Netherlands Tax Department in Bonaire has had the same questions in writing for over a year and has failed to respond,” said the CoC representatives.

With regards to the “immovable property tax,” the CoC formally reiterated local business concerns of discriminatory practices. Because the tax department has not been able to successfully implement the law, the businesses who have paid are requesting some type of reimbursement.

No clear response was given but the BCN representatives asked that “those who have paid this should send in a written protest to the Tax Department.”

The controversial implementation of the ASACUDA system was also discussed. Saba’s attending business people asked if the current method would change. The response at the time of the meeting was that it would and that all goods being imported would have to be separated into the 97 chapters. Following this statement, CoC board member Wolfgang Tooten approached Commissioner Chris Johnson concerned that low-level bureaucratic interpretations go against stated political intentions. Commissioner Johnson immediately intervened, requesting clarifications from Bermudez who promptly responded stating that the current method used for Saba will remain as such.

The information session was an opportunity to announce that there will be follow-up public training sessions at the Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside on March 19 from 6:30pm until 8:00pm. All participants will receive help with their “IB tax returns, LB, and ABB forms.” The BCN will also hold a public information campaign from March 24 until April 10, titled “HUBA” (Hulp Bij Aangifte). It is also geared at assisting individuals with filling in their tax declarations. BCN representatives said flyers have been distributed throughout the island concerning both of these programmes.

BCN representatives also informed that a notice has been sent to the public regarding the need to fill a Customs Declaration Form when travelling through the airport or harbour with US $10,000 or more.

The controversial issue of private apartment rentals was brought up, concerning the 6 per cent ABB Room Tax on rented apartments. “If you rent to someone considered as a ‘resident,’ which means someone residing on the island permanently or long-term rentals such as medical students, then there is no room tax placed on the apartment,” states the CoC release. Even though landlords are still required to pay the property tax (Vastgoed belasting) on such long-term rentals, they are exempt from the Room Tax.

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