UP Leader MP Theo Heyliger  commends SZV on collection,  urges Minister of Finance to follow suit now

The work and success of the Audit Team of the Social and Health Insurances SZV must be commended and must be used as an example by Government for the Tax Office in collecting back taxes without closing down businesses or taking often struggling residents into Court to face criminal charges, said United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger. 


The SZV Audit Team, established in January 2016, has helped SZV to collect more than NAf 28 million extra in social premiums for the social security funds managed by SZV.


“The Audit Team shows what we are capable of when we put workable mechanisms in place, training our people and executing a decent plan to recover backlog funds,” said Heyliger. 


“Instead of focusing on a massive restructuring of the tax office, Government should look into how the SZV team has been successful in its collections and successful without terrorising of our people, sending them into bankruptcy or worse to Court or jail,” he said. 


The tax issues rank a top headache for residents and business due to the complexity of the country’s tax laws. Heyliger said this was why Parliament passed the motion on December 16, 2016, instructing the Finance Minister to start a public campaign to inform the public about the possibilities to make use of the tax facilities provided by General Ordinance on Taxes, such as the voluntary disclosure scheme on how to avoid criminal prosecution under law.


That motion also calls on Government to allow for a longer period to pay taxes owed and adjust its collection policy accordingly. The Finance Minister has three months from the passing of the motion to send guidelines to Parliament. 


“The motion, presented by UP MP Claret Connor, should be put into action by Government post haste. The people of St. Maarten must be informed properly of the laws and of their obligations. They say ignorance of the law is not excuse therefore it is Government’s chief responsibility to properly inform its people and equal them not to fail,” said Heyliger. 


“The dragging of residents in front of the court on criminal only further builds up the fog of St. Maarten and her people as lawless or ignoring of the laws. Everyone deserves a fair chance to get their financial house in order, to get a payment scheme if one is needed, and not be fearful of losing everything they have worked hard to acquire or face time in prison,” said the MP and UP leader.