House debates telecoms tax bill

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The House of Representatives last night opened debate on Telecommunications Tax Bill 2017, which will impose a tax on incoming overseas telecommunications if it becomes law.
The bill was piloted by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who said the revenues would be used to fund an entrepreneurial scheme.
The bill proposes to make the companies agents of the Inland Revenue commissioner so that they could collect the taxes on behalf of the government.
Browne said government is looking to impose a 13.5 cents per minute tax on every telecommunication originating outside Antigua and Barbuda and tentatively suggested February 1 as the start date once the  bill becomes an Act.
According to the bill’s explanatory memorandum, the bill also prescribes the contents of the information or other documents, which the licence holder would be required to provide to the commissioner when making the payments.
Another clause in the bill prescribes the manner of calculating the tax and proposes that in calculating the tax, a fraction of a minute, if equal to or greater than one half of a minute, shall be counted as one minute.
Meanwhile, another clause creates an offence, the violation of which is punishable, on conviction, by a fixed rate of fine and, if the offence continues after conviction, the offender becomes liable to a mandatory daily maximum fine.

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