Minister Geerlings kicks-off Tax Transformation Project with Presentation to the Tax Department

Last week Wednesday August 21, the Tax Transformation Project was kicked off with a presentation meeting with the entire staff of the Tax Department, Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings said on Sunday.


The purpose of the presentation meeting was not only to kickoff and present the Tax Transformation Project, but also to give the staff the opportunity to comment on it and give their input.


The Tax Transformation Project comprises of a three-pronged approach consisting of a reform process of the tax system; organizational transformation; and communication and education of all external and internal stakeholders.


Minister Geerlings explained where it relates to the reform of the tax system, “An evaluation of the current tax types will take place in order to rearrange or simplify the tax system where necessary and make it more transparent and effective.

“Sint Maarten has a relatively large shadow economy that is not, or to a lesser extent, included in the tax contribution process. An important starting point for this reform is not necessarily to increase the tax rates and burden. Instead the reform aims to broaden the tax base, so that those who have not previously contributed will now also contribute their “fair share” to the progress of our country.”


Where it concerns organizational transformation, Minister Geerlings adds, “With the Tax Transformation Project, the government intends to reform the tax system while at the same time reorganizing the Tax Department. The modernization of the tax system goes hand in hand with the reorganization and transformation of the Tax Department.


“After all, the new tax system will have to be carried out by the Tax Department that is currently underperforming because of being the underprivileged child with lack of investments for many years. Investments are now being made in the Tax Department to enable the organization to effectively carry out its levy, collection and audit function.


“The key to success is to transform the organization into an agile client focused, modern tax organization with a complete formation, redesigned processes, procedures, internal controls and state-of-the-art ICT-support.”


From a communication and education perspective, all external and internal stakeholders need to be informed.  “Parallel to the previous two tracks the taxpayers, stakeholders and tax officials will be educated and informed through a comprehensive communication plan.  The Tax Transformation Project is expected to take more than three years,” Minister Hon. Perry Geerlings pointed out.


Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings opened the presentation and discussion and highlighted the importance of the Tax Transformation Project for Sint Maarten during the presentation to staff.


“My ministry has developed a Financial Recovery Plan for Sint Maarten. In this Financial Recovery Plan, the Tax Transformation Project is a priority. The only way to have enough money to pay for Government’s primary responsibilities like education, justice, safety and security of the population, healthcare, social services, infrastructure and be able to pay the civil servants and invest in our infrastructure and the recovery, is through the levy and collection of taxes.


“The Tax Transformation Project is the basis for sustainable government finances and the ability to invest in the continued recovery and economic development of Sint Maarten. This plan puts you, the staff, in an envious and unique position to contribute to this development and national progress,” Minister Hon. Perry Geerlings told the staff of the Tax Department.


“Since 10-10-10 the Tax Department faced many challenges. Unfortunately, we were not given the priority and resources to meet these challenges, like hiring the right staff, investing in the right technology, retooling and training our staff. This lack of investments ultimately affected our ability to give good service to our taxpayers and resulted in delays, backlogs and arrears. With this transformation plan we can finally invest in the improvement of the heart of government, the Tax Department,” said Sherry Hazel, Head of the Tax Department during the presentation to the staff.


The staff members of the Tax Department had different questions but also some critical but constructive comments. The minister and the management of the Tax Department welcomed their constructive feedback and concluded the presentation by asking the staff for their patience and support to make the Tax Transformation Project a success for Sint Maarten.