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By Elesha George

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Business owners on the island are concerned about some of the strategies being applied by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to collect more taxes.

Some owners say that the tax collection agency is inflating the yearly revenue intake collected by companies, using estimates. They believe that type of strategy is meant to force business owners who withhold taxes to meet with the department.

For example, where a company has regularly declared tax below EC $300,000, the IRD may issue a letter with its own evaluation amount, sometimes double what is declared, and will give the company a deadline in which time they can challenge the evaluation.

However, if businesses do not keep proper records of their operations, that strategy runs the risk of having the company paying back taxes to the IRD.

Furthermore, because businesses that make below a certain threshold are not required to charge their customers Antigua & Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST), an upturn in their perceived revenue collection could mean the addition of ABST, likely causing the goods or service price to increase.

Other business owners say they have been audited numerous times even while, for the most part, they are up-to-date with payments.

Commissioner of Inland Revenue Ralph Warner told Observer that the department assesses all businesses that are in arrears and do not file the applicable remittances or financial statements to the department.

“We just don’t arbitrarily make an assessment to a business. An assessment is done when that business fails to file and pay on time and this is happening on a continuous basis,” he said.

Warner said the taxpayer has 30 days in which they can present an argument to the IRD, showing evidence through financial statements that the businesses does not owe the re-evaluated amount.

The IRD regulates five types of taxes, including ABST, Unincorporated Tax (UBT), Property Tax, Corporation Tax and Entertainment Tax.

These concerns come days after Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced austerity measures which included taking a hardline on persons withholding state tax, to begin to recover from a projected one billion dollars in economic loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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