UPP asks gov't to review implementation of entertainment tax

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The re-introduction of the 10 percent entertainment tax to be levied on the sale of all tickets for entry into an event is coming at a wrong time, according to the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP).
The Gaston Browne administration is seeking to enforce the law after a three-year moratorium, although those in the industry are unhappy about it.
During an interview on Sunday, Political Leader of the UPP Harold Lovell stated that the party is concerned about this most recent development.
He said what the government is proposing at this time poses a serious threat to the future of the burgeoning industry.
“What the government should seek to do is to see how they can partner with this group to give them the necessary concessions, in order to build the entertainment industry. That was a vision we had way back when I was minister of tourism, to make Antigua the entertainment capital in the Caribbean,” Lovell said.
He also said, “Sometimes an investor in the entertainment sector is not even making a good 10 percent in terms of profit. So, to take away 10 percent of the revenue derived from the sale of tickets- will destroy all the efforts that these young Antiguans and Barbudans are trying to do,”
The political leader is asking the government to review its position on the matter before going forward.
The relevant law makes provision for a 10 percent tax to be charged on each ticket sold at an event. For fetes where there is no entry, a flat rate of $500 will be charged, while promoters hosting a sporting event will have to pay a 2 percent levy on each ticket that is sold to patrons.
The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has asked all promoters to register with the department and each small business owner will be required to pay a fee based on the gross income of the preceding income year.
In addition to the 10 percent entertainment tax, the government is also enforcing a 25 percent withholding tax that is to be deducted from the final fee that is paid to an overseas artiste performing in Antigua.
Each promoter will be responsible for deducting that amount and pay it over to the government.
The promoters met with officials from the IRD last week to share their perspective on the matter. They have asked the government to give them a week to put forward their concerns and suggestions in writing.
The issue surrounding the entertainment tax was also discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Friday.
In the weekly Cabinet notes, Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst said that while the Cabinet awaits word from the promoters, it wants to make it clear that entertainment functions must contribute to the IRD’s revenue and raising that goes towards paying salaries, wages, providing safety and security, and for ensuring sanitary conditions exist before and after events.
Hurst also noted that shows extract a cost from the government which the 10 percent levy is intended merely to cover.

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