– millions evaded in taxes because of the non-compliance
Physicians, attorneys and other professionals who are delinquent in paying their taxes will be sternly pursued by the Guyana Revenue Authority.
A GINA release quoted Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur as saying that the authority will be increasing its efforts to bring to justice tax evaders, specifically those who are professionals.
“On an annual basis there are categories of professionals-among them are accountants, lawyers, doctors, architects, civil engineers, dentists, land surveyors, pharmacists…in excess of 530, who are required to take up practising and serving fees which are due at the end of February every year…the condition which they are required to take a fee is laid out in the Tax Act…one of those conditions is that they must have complied with the statutory organisation under the Tax Act, of filing their returns and making payments on their taxes which are due on February 28 every year…this is not done,” Sattaur said.
“This year we will take a more serious approach to evaders…among the category of medical practitioners there are in excess of 300 – less than 35 of them comply…there are in excess of 105 attorneys-at-law – less than 20 of them comply in taking out their practitioner’s certificate…it seems to me that the GRA would have to spare no effort in using its enforcement machinery to go after these very stubborn individuals,” Sattaur said.
According to GINA, he explained that this obligation is not a voluntary but rather a legal one.
“ Less than 15 percent of all categories of professionals have not complied with this requirement…what we have found among the delinquent ones -many are very prominent doctors and lawyers…very soon we will be publicizing those who are not honouring their obligations…Whilst we are publicizing those that took out their practising certificate, we need to reverse the system to give publicity to those who do not take out their certificates, as it is an indication that they did not file their income tax returns, thereby they cannot obtain a legitimate tax compliance certificate,” Sattaur said.
He said these very people who fail to file their returns earn millions of dollars per year, yet still they evade taxes. It was explained that one of the measures that GRA has been using to ensure that they comply with the law is the implementation of the practising certificate.
“…we are also engaged in other measures to pursue them for not filing their returns…we will be pursuing more vigorously, the compliance of this category of tax payers because they are the ones who are evading the revenues without much redress being taken against them…it seems as if they operate with impunity…we are improving our systems and capability along with our capacity to address this major scourge…millions of dollars are evaded in taxes because of the non-compliance of these categories of tax payers,” Sattaur said.
The GRA previously threatened to take legal actions against professionals who operate without their practice certificates.
According to GRA, in Category A- Accountants, Auditors, Legal Practitioners, Medical Practitioners, Architects, Dentists and Optometrists must pay $250,000 for the practice certificate; Category B- Engineers and Veterinary Surgeon – $150,000; Category C- Physiotherapists, Pharmacists and Surveyors – a sum of $75,000 is required.
“Professionals who qualified within three years preceding the date of the application for the practice certificate are permitted to pay $25,000 and shall thereafter be liable to pay the full prescribed fee. All conditions must be satisfied before the certificate is issued by the GRA,” Sattaur had noted.
A Tax Practice Certificate is valid for one calendar year and is renewable annually. All applicants must uplift and complete an application form from the Compliance Section, Tax Operations and Services Department, G.P.O Building or any Regional Branch Office.
“The person must state therein his/her experience, the nature of his/her practice, the place of practice and provide copies of their certificates as proof of qualification to practice the profession.”
Last year, lawyers had expressed concerns over a proposed Parliamentary Bill that can prevent them from practising unless their taxes are up-to-date.
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