Basseterre, St. Kitts, (SKNIS): As St. Kitts and Nevis begin the process of reopening, Edward Gift, Comptroller of Inland Revenue Department (IRD) said that the Ministry of Finance and the IRD focused on several risks to its operations, the economy, and its customers, and as such, developed plans to confront the major challenges.
One of those plans is the management of IRD’s front operations during peak times in light of the ongoing social distancing measures.
“The Department places the safety of its customers and staff as its top priority and continued social distancing measures are to protect all of us,’” said Mr. Gift during his appearance on the August 18 edition of ‘Leadership Matters’, a virtual forum on ZIZ TV. “Customers to the department are reminded that they may experience delays when completing face-to-face transactions at peak periods and are encouraged to utilize our online services and avoid the lines.”
Another important measure deals directly with taxpayers’ behaviour in terms of filing and payments.
“The department is closely monitoring taxpayer filing and payments behaviour to identify emerging trends and compliance risk. In the context of this recovery, many businesses have been negatively impacted while others have benefited,” he said. “The department will continue to monitor taxpayer patterns to ensure that some taxpayers are not abusing stimulus measures and using the crisis to avoid payment of taxes.
Mr. Gift noted that the department has been examining trends and findings revealed that for the period 2017-2019, the average compliance rate for VAT filings was around 96 percent, while the VAT compliance rate for July 2020 fell to 51 percent.
“The department has been actively engaged in the process of communicating the government’s commitment to helping taxpayers meet their obligations as they restore their businesses. We want to remind business owners of the importance of filing during this period,” he said. “Although your business may have recorded a reduction in sales you are still required to file under the tax laws and avoid the additional cost of late penalties. Businesses that may have temporarily closed for some reason are asked again to avoid this additional cost of late filing by simply applying to the Inland Revenue Department for inactivity period,” he added.
The Comptroller reiterated that the department would be examining returns for taxpayers to ensure that persons are not taking advantage of the stimulus package measures.