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VAT Sanctions Expose ‘Absurd’ Double Standard

The Tax Coalition’s co-chairman yesterday blasted the proposed sanctions for Value-Added Tax (VAT) non-compliance as exposing an “absurd” double standard, warning the Government it was placing “undue pressure on the private sector”.

Robert Myers, who jointly leads the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCEEC) formed body, questioned why the Christie administration was so keen to enforce such draconian measures on the business community when its own agencies/departments were already guilty of non-compliance.

Questioning why government agencies/departments, and their officials, had not been hit with the same penalties for failing to collect and enforce existing taxes, Mr Myers said the Government was now asking the private sector – through VAT – to do what it had not been able to.

The Tax Coalition co-chair added that he had spoken to several businesspersons yesterday who were close to losing it” over their VAT concerns.

Ministry of Finance officials this week confirmed that several VAT non-compliance offences may result in both fines and imprisonment for up to two years. Fines for individuals are proposed at between $12,000-$25,000, while those for companies extend from $25,000 to $150,000.

Setting out the proposed sanctions regime at this week’s Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) conference, officials said measures included the ability for the Central Revenue Agency/VAT Unit to issue ‘third party liability notices’ to registrant’s banks to obtain their financial details.

The Government will also be able to attach a lien over monies owed to alleged VAT non-payers by third parties, plus seize their goods and assets to make good the sums outstanding.

“There’s a few insidious things in there,” one private sector source told Tribune Business yesterday. “They have the ability to reach into your bank account, and tie in all the monies owed to the Treasury. They can hit you up for real property tax.”

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