NA MP George Pantophlet.
~ Pre-2017 taxes should be written off ~
PHILIPSBURG--National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet believes that the manner in which taxes are collected should be looked into and has proposed that a word be changed in Article 6 of the tax collection ordinance to achieve the change he believes is necessary.
He also believes that taxes prior to 2017 should be written off and opined that tax compliance can lead to tax write-offs.
Pantophlet alluded to Article 6 of the 1970 collection ordinance which was amended February 16, 1995 and established on June 2, 1995, which says the Receiver’s Office is authorised to postpone payment of taxes and to make easier payment arrangements upon request of the taxpayer in the event there is irrefutable proof that because of an extraordinary situation out of their control, the taxpayer cannot comply with the prescribed payment regulations/conditions.
“I think a change should be made… [where the word –Ed] authorize [is changed to] must, especially when it comes to relieving the pressure on the most vulnerable being, the senior citizens,” stated Pantophlet.
“Tax compliance has been a challenge for decades now, this is based on reports that have been made over the years. It is no secret that the Inspectorate of Taxes does not have sufficient staff nor equipment to keep up with the workload. The Receiver’s Office also finds itself in the same situation. Amounts budgeted by governments to upgrade these departments were considered too high by the Committee for Financial Supervision [CFT]. Interestingly they are the same ones who are complaining about tax compliance,” stated the NA MP.
“What is a pity is that this deficiency is being used by businesses and persons not to file or pay their taxes. At the moment, the present tax compliance continues to be extremely low. Some or too many neglect their civic responsibility towards society by not paying their taxes.”
Pantophlet said he has heard the cry of seniors, who are the “low-hanging fruits” when it comes to tax collection. He is sure that businesses and persons are also affected by this. The MP had a discussion with an MP from Curaҁao whose parents have a business. “They were faithfully paying their taxes. The Minister of Finance of Curaҫao decided to grant tax write-offs on taxes owed prior to 2017. His parents are extremely happy and are enjoying a real breath of fresh air. Excluded from this write-off according to the Minister of Finance of Curaҁao were the millionaires. For me it was interesting to hear this because millionaires should not owe taxes in the first place, but that is another discussion,” it was stated in the release.
“He [Pantophlet] is quite aware of the fact that government earns its revenues through taxes and they cannot carelessly write off taxes, but he is convinced that taxes owed prior to 2017 should be written off. There is something called bad debts or uncollectible receivables. Questions he would ask would be how much is owed to government by organisations and persons on taxes prior to 2017; another question would be how much is being collected from these persons and or organisations.”
He continued: “Tax collection is a condition sin qua non, however, one has to be careful not to
push people/businesses into poverty. Because they can become a burden to government as it relates to social responsibilities. Some of the complaints I continue to hear are from senior citizens/pensioners who are now feeling the brunt of it. To make tax write-offs complete, the Receiver’s Office should not be allowed to take any revenues belonging to the businesses or persons and apply it to back taxes prior to 2017. Discussions should still be held to ensure if this option is still open, the financial situation of the person or business is taken into consideration. I am quite sure that there are businesses and persons who would feel that it is not fair because their taxes are up to date. But this should not be a deterrent. The case is to ensure that the files are up to date and kept current. Tax compliance is the key that will lead to tax write-offs. Legislation to do so was started some years ago but never finalised. It is time again to make it a matter of urgency. Doing nothing is not an option,” the MP said