Over 50 promoters left a two-hour meeting with officials of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) yesterday, unsettled about certain aspects of the government’s plan to re-introduce a 10 percent entertainment tax.
They are also asking several questions about a 25 percent withholding tax on overseas artistes which the government has already enforced. The promoters have asked the IRD to give them one week to submit a written document with their concerns and recommendations.
They have also asked for one of their representatives to be present when their concerns are presented to the government.
The Gaston Browne-administration had relaxed the 10 percent tax over the last two years to provide an ease to the promoters.
However, during a Cabinet meeting in April, government officials decided that it should be re-instituted and instructed the IRD to act accordingly.
Although the meeting was relatively calm, event promoters were eager to share their concerns and highlight what many of them described as unfair.
According to one promoter, the proposal by the government has the potential to cripple Antigua and Barbuda’s burgeoning entertainment industry.
The male business owner said that many people feel that promoters make millions of dollars in gate receipts, however, when one calculates the expenditure incurred to put on an activity, they spend more than what was earned.
“We have a fledging industry here where most of the events don’t make money, but they do contribute hugely to the cultural life of the island. And this is not a good idea if you want that to grow,” the businessman said.
“The tax that you are proposing is a tax on business not a tax on profits. It is an additional cost to all promoters and everyone putting on an event regardless if they make a profit or not,” another promoter said.
A female promoter also noted that individuals putting on all-inclusive fetes will be placed at a greater disadvantage.
“A 10 percent of an all-inclusive is actually a greater loss to persons because you have drinks and other things included in the ticket. So, we will lose more than someone who is just charging to enter the fete,” the woman said.
The promoters also complained about direct competition from government officials who they say are also hosting free events, sometimes on the same date.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)