Member of Parliament George Pantophlet says that in order to reenergize the economy government must deal with the tax issues. One of the solutions is to write off taxes owed prior to 2005.
After this is done government must be consistent in ensuring that business and people live up to their responsibilities when it comes to filing and paying their taxes. The receiver’s office is very strict now in trying to collect taxes and again he understands that it is important or else government can’t meet its obligations such as payrolls, infrastructure and so on. What he finds unfair however is that when it comes to refunding business or persons one has to wait months sometimes an entire year before receiving their tax refunds. It would be interesting to know how much the receiver owes persons for tax refunds prior to 2005. It would be interesting to know the amount of assessments by the inspectorate of taxes, it would be interesting to know how many protest letters have been submitted, it would be interesting to know how many court cases are ongoing. It would be interesting to know how much government has spent in pursuing these cases. It would be interesting to know how much is really collectible. In discussions with several persons on this issue a remark was made that especially businesses will benefit or dodge the proverbial bullet especially if they knowingly refuse to file and consequently pay their taxes as the staffing and equipment to make sure that they comply was and still is lacking. The Member of Parliament says he is compelled again to address the problem of the people who have paid the most and are benefitting the least, our pensioners. In 2005 the Member of Parliament said that during a discussion on the 2005Budget he had asked the then Commissioner of Finance Sara Wescot-Williams to inform the people of St. Maarten on how much was paid in taxes by the pensioners. The response was that this information was private. Can you imagine that information regarding a public document was considered private? The intention behind the question was to get a target of what needs to be raised within the Budget to offset the probable loss from excluding pensioners who have already paid their fair share of taxes. First of all no pensioner should be paying taxes on their pension. Second their additional income which can consist of rent/self-employment should only be taxed for example if it is above 6000 guilders per month or 72000 guilders per annum. The amount of income above the 72000 guilders will be taxed. In other words if the total income per annum is 90,000 guilders then they would be taxed on the 18000 guilders. Anything below the 72000 guilders will not be taxed. (The proposed amounts are not written in stone).The spirit of the proposal to assist the senior citizens and to recognize that they have already made their contributions and paid their taxes and now should not be taxed again on funds they paid to Government, banks, Insurance Companies etc. to hold for them and return to them during their senior years. In other words, one should not be taxed for their own money that they in good faith entrusted to a third party for some 30/40 years, when it is now being returned to them. The Member of Parliament says that in a subsequent article he will be making suggestions on how to generate funds make up for the shortfall.