Dec 05, 2016 News
While the Parliamentary Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party Civic cannot challenge the government on its intention to apply Value Added Tax on electricity and water, it plans to contest the garnishment of funds from taxpayers’ bank accounts in the court, depending on how the measure is implemented.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, informed media operatives last Friday that his party is willing to challenge in court government’s intention to empower the Guyana Revenue Authority to garnish outstanding funds from bank accounts held by defaulting taxpayers.
But this depends on how the government plans to implement the system.
According to Jagdeo, unless there is a court judgment which the revenue authority is seeking to enforce, only then would garnishment not be challenged.
He said that this is one of the many measures he is urging the coalition government to rethink.
“Maybe if you get a judgment from the court, then you can look at this as a possibility of recovering your money…but not because you feel the taxpayer owes you.”
Jagdeo said that taxpayers may have a problem with how the system has since been described and many will challenge claims by GRA that they are in arrears.
“At least if you get a judgment, he (the taxpayer) will know that the money in his account could be garnished but not the way they (government) are planning it.”
The politician said that this system should not be implemented as described, since it is a violation of people’s liberties and their property rights.
According to Jagdeo, any withdrawal or reduction of the tax rests solely with the executive arm of government. “That’s why I’m appealing directly to the President because it’s not Winston Jordan’s budget. Winston Jordan is reflecting the will of the government through this budget.”
Jagdeo urged that President David Granger should convene his cabinet to either withdraw or review the $250B budget for 2017 and the many measures which Jagdeo says he considers to be oppressive and offensive to the ordinary man.
He said that when taking into consideration the 2016 budget and the 2017 budget, the coalition government has introduced at least 200 changes into Guyana’s tax regime. He said that the government should release the Tax Reform Committee’s report so that the nation can know what were the recommendations made and the justifications given for each.
Garnishment is a legal process whereby payments towards a debt owed by an individual can be paid by a third party which holds money or property that is due to the individual, directly to the creditor.
According to the Finance Minister, this measure will help the GRA’s revenue collection and further improve compliance with claims issued by the authority.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan, explaining the proposed tax measure, emphasized that the measure is intended to assist in improving compliance with demands issued by the GRA for outstanding payments.
The economist stressed, too, that the provision of garnishment is one which already exists in the Value Added Tax Act that was promulgated by the People’s Progressive Party.
He said that while GRA already has this power under the VAT Act, what Government is simply doing is providing similar arrangements under the Income Tax Act.
The Finance Minister said that contrary to the confusion, tales and fears being spread and invoked by some, there is no move to have the new garnishment provision being used in an arbitrary manner or “willy-nilly” fashion by the GRA.
As it relates to the application of a 14 per cent Value Added Tax on electricity and water, Jagdeo said his party cannot challenge the issue since it is a matter of policy and not law.
He said that the coalition government can easily pass the new measure using their one seat majority in the national assembly.
The government had indicated through its Minister of Finance Winston Jordan that in 2017 it will apply a 14 per cent VAT on the electricity and water bills which exceed $10,000 and $1,500 respectively.
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