Time to stop tax evasion in A&B – PM Browne

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called on the government to crack down on businesses and individuals engaging in tax evasion.
In his speech during parliament yesterday on the Tax Administrative and Procedure Bill of 2018, the prime minister said that the government has had persistent tax collection issues.
“Truth be told, we have a problem of tax collection within this country. Presently, we are only collecting approximately 17 percent of GDP and we should be collecting on average 25 percent of GDP. That is the standard that has been set for developing countries globally,” he said.
Browne promised that a new law will drastically improve tax collection in Antigua and Barbuda, claiming that the deficit in tax collection has led to millions of dollars in lost tax income.
“We are undertaxed to the extent $328 million a year and all we are saying to you is half of that – even a quarter of it will help. But if we can even get $150 million more in revenue, then we will not have the fundamental structural problems continuing into the future,” the prime minister said as he called on the opposition in Parliament to support the Bill, claiming that there is no need for “political opportunism”.
He said that once the Bill is passed, it will assist the government in enforcing tax collection and meeting its commitments.
“Historically, we have never really operated at the 25 percent level for collection. Now, what the [Tax Administrative and Procedure Bill] will do, is that it will help us to administer these taxes in a more efficient manner and, at the same time, help us to enforce the collection of taxes, so that we can increase the yield in order to fund government expenses.”
Browne, who is also the minister of finance, singled out the United Progressive Party (UPP) for creating agreements with telecommunication companies, FLOW (previously Cable and Wireless) and Digicel, which he believes has led to insufficient taxes being collected from the companies.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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