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By Elesha George

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The Prices and Consumer Affairs Division has asked consumers to maintain vigilance by checking to ensure they are not being taxed for products that have been temporarily added to its price control order.

“Please pay particular attention to receipts to ensure the ABST is not being collected on these goods,” the division said in a press statement.

“If a consumer is charged ABST on these goods, he/she should report the matter to the division so that the amount paid in tax can be refunded to the consumer.”

In March 2020, the Cabinet approved the temporary relief of the Antigua Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) on selected items considered as essential to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Some of the more popular items on the list include toilet paper, paper towels, soap, sanitiser, vitamins, and antiseptic to include hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and Dettol, among others.

“Once the particular good states antiseptic, it is included and the ABST should be temporarily removed. So, too, are wipes – whether disinfecting wipes or cleaning wipes,” Press Information Officer, Jo-Ann Peters, said.

The removal of the 15 percent tax would allow these items to be purchased at an affordable price so that consumers can play their part to mitigate the spread of the virus.

According to Peters, “this means that consumers should be enjoying a two-fold benefit having them being temporarily price controlled items and the ABST being temporarily removed”.

However, the division has said that it continues to receive reports that some traders are still displaying these items for sale with the ABST included in the price.

“I have received a few calls and after doing investigations, you realise that the tax is still being applied to certain items,” Peters told Observer.

She said the biggest problem initially was with the removal of ABST on disinfectant products.

The information officer explained that because disinfectant was a price control item prior to the relief programme, traders were not removing the 15 percent tax at checkout.

For the most part, Peters said the changes have not been applied across the board.

Some of the complaints, she said, have come from the public while others have been raised by price control inspectors who occasionally visit stores and pharmacies to ensure that business places are complying with the executive decision, among other things.

She said in some cases the changes have not been applied because some traders either don’t understand that they need to temporarily remove the ABST from the items, or they’re not aware of some of the items that should not be taxed.

Peters is asking shoppers to present their receipts to the division if they have still been made to pay tax on these items. She said the division will seek redress on behalf of the customers to have the amount paid in ABST refunded to them.

“The savings belong to the consumer and they should have that saving,” she declared.

Traders who have questions or need clarity regarding the goods to which the temporary relief of the ABST applies, are asked to contact the division at 462-0834 or 562-8749.

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