First there was a claim that Land Tax Clearance Certificates would not be issued if the Municipal Solid Waste Tax is not paid. Now, reports have emerged that the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has taken a policy decision not to issue the certificate to anyone who has not paid all other taxes.
The charge has been leveled by attorney-at-law and parliamentary representative for St James North Edmund Hinkson, who is questioning the legality of the decision.
“We now understand, and it has been confirmed, that the BRA is requiring that a form be completed and submitted to them by virtue of which that authority will check to see if you have any arrears of any other taxes, which that authority has the power to collect before issuing a Land Tax Clearance Certificate.
“You have to fill out this form giving your identification number, your National Insurance Number and other details. Armed with this information, the BRA will check to find out if you owe any arrears of Income Tax, Value Added Tax, Excise Tax or if you are a corporate entity, whether you owed any arrears on Corporation Tax under the Income Tax Act. Again, we in the BLP say that the BRA has absolutely no legal authority to adopt that stance,” Hinkson argued.
He accused Government of attempting to collect taxes by illegal means and warned that this would have a negative effect on business transactions. The St James North MP disclosed that members of the legal profession only became aware of the new policy decision after legal clerks paid the Municipal Solid Waste Tax and were told that they would have to fill out the form indicating that all other taxes had also been paid.
Noting that some statutory bodies owe Government millions of dollars in Value Added Tax and Income tax, Hinkson questioned what this would mean for the National Housing Corporation, Transport Board and other agencies.
“We know that the National Housing Corporation is into the sale of properties even though they have not sold any property since the last general election, but they are into it. What is going to be the position when the NHC is going to be unable to obtain a tax clearance certificate? Are they not going to be able to transfer any of the properties to tenants who are buying them? This has serious implications and repercussions that have clearly not been thought out,” Hinkson argued.
He pointed out that the new arrangement may disqualify some persons and companies from tendering for some contracts even where the tendering process does not identify some areas of taxation.