$1B recovered from tax evaders

THE Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has recovered $1B from tax evaders as it tightens measures to ensure compliance with the law, Commissioner-General, Godfrey Statia said.

Speaking at a recent press briefing, the commissioner-general noted that 80 percent of all revenues are centered on 200 large businesses, as he acknowledged that hundreds of millions in taxes are not paid by others.

In an effort to remedy the situation, Statia said the GRA has begun establishing a large Taxpayer’s Unit, which focuses on large businesses.

“The reason why we are doing so, is that in each one of those files [for the large businesses] that we would have checked, there are hundreds of millions of dollars that if we are to review them correctly, we will be in a position to collect them,” Statia said.

The authority has already engaged 12 entities and has been able to recover over $1B.

Once these large taxpayers have been dealt with by the authority, the GRA will be able to focus on the low-level taxpayers.

Aside from the large taxpayers, Statia noted that the authority will begin scanning and digitalising all taxpayers records to tighten efficiency in accounting for taxes.

“We are being truthful; we know we are still losing records,” the GRA boss said.

He stressed too, that the only persons paying their taxes diligently are the employees who have their taxes deducted immediately from their salaries.

“Our emphasis is to widen the tax base,” Godfrey explained and added that once this base is widened, the tax rate would be reduced for everyone.

There are many unregistered businesses that do not pay taxes. There are also many unregistered heavy-duty equipment and vehicles imported, that cause the authority to lose up to $6B each year.

And not so long ago, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, reported that the vast majority of private schools also do not honour their tax obligation to the government.

According to a 2015 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean report, tax dodging cost public treasuries in Latin America and the Caribbean an estimated US$340B or 6.7 per cent of the region’s total income.


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