Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia, has said that after pushing the GRA around for some time, Guyana Stores Limited has to pay $3.8B in outstanding taxes. It would not be able to benefit from the tax amnesty period, Statia added.
This was noted during a press conference yesterday.
Providing an update on the matter, the tax chief, “There will be no amnesty for this particular taxpayer.”
He said that the shareholder was called in and given a chance to submit all of his outstanding tax returns. Statia said that the shareholder was also given the chance to provide GRA with a settlement proposal.
The GRA Commissioner General said, “It is not in the interest of GRA to seize or close businesses and we have to try and work along with the taxpayers. We have to recognize that in the $3.8B amount, there is a sizeable amount of interest and penalties…”
Statia continued, “I keep saying if you have pushed us around for so many years, you can’t expect that we would give you the olive branch. But the least we are taking initially is $300M.”
The GRA Commissioner General noted that Guyana Stores had 30 days to pay up but that deadline expired. Statia said that the shareholder requested additional time and is expected to start filing his tax returns by Monday.
THE GUYANA STORES MATTER
The appeal of the Guyana Revenue Authority against GSL was before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for some time now.
The matter involved a constitutional challenge to the two percent minimum Corporation Tax under the Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Acts. No. 16 of 1994 and 3 of 1996. The company had received a demand dated May 2012 from the Commissioner General of GRA for the sum of $3,811,346,397.
GSL instituted proceedings in the courts of Guyana, and the matter was subsequently appealed to the CCJ after rulings in favour of GRA.
The CCJ has ruled that the minimum Corporation Tax as enacted by the National Assembly was not a forced loan, as argued by the company.
“The court has upheld the GRA submissions that the minimum corporation tax is constitutionally valid. The CCJ also ruled that the company should not be permitted to invoke the constitutional jurisdiction of the courts by arguing that an alleged misapplication of a law is unconstitutional.
The CCJ stated that the Income Tax Act provides a specialized procedure for challenging assessments and the company ought to have utilized that procedure.”
GRA, in a statement, said that the decision is a victory for the authorities as many taxpayers attempt to avoid the specialized procedure under the Act in order to delay and evade the payment of tax.
GRA was represented by attorneys-at-law, Ronald Burch-Smith, Mark Waldron and Keoma Griffith. Kim Kyte-Thomas, Oneka Archer-Caulder and Judy Stuart-Adonis represented the Attorney General of Guyana. Attorney-at-law Stephen Fraser appeared for GSL.
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