The Tax Reform Committee that was established by the David Granger Administration had recommended that all Income Tax exemptions granted to certain office holders, such as the President, Attorney General, Chancellor, Chief Justice and Auditor General be removed.
The Granger Administration however never implemented this and other recommendations and Committee member, Christopher Ram is advocating that Finance Minister Winston Jordan, take on the measures that had been propose and implement these in his 2018 Budget. The Tax Reform Committee members are Godfrey Statia, Christopher Ram, Dr Maurice Odle and Dr Thomas Singh.
The measures that were recommended by the Government’s Tax Reform Committee were meant to be revenue neutral – meaning there was not supposed to be an additional burden on taxpayers – many of its measure were never implemented and committee Ram believes they should be incorporated into the 2018 Budget.
These measures include the introduction of a progressive personal income tax, beginning at $62,500 per month.
This past week, the Guyana Business Summit delved into taxation during a panel discussion which saw the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia advocating an adjustment in the personal taxes paid in order to ensure that more disposable income is available to persons.
He was responding to assertions that the more than 200 tax measures introduced in the two previous budgets have in fact removed some $10 billion from the pockets of the ordinary Guyanese.
According to Ram, the Tax Reform Committee “had estimated that its proposals excluding amnesty, Government transfers, and other such measures “would be revenue neutral, but that there would be some rebalancing in the system.”
Revenue neutral means the changes in the tax system would not increase or decrease the taxes received by Government. This did not obtain and Government used its tax measures over the past two years to rake in billions more than had been projected.
Rich pay more
Ram over the weekend pointed to the unimplemented measures available to the Finance Minister that were prepared by the Tax Reform Committee.
On the matter of the progressive tax rate for employees, Ram called for the introduction of a threshold of $750,000 with three different bands. In short, a person earning between $62,500 and $83,000 would be taxed at 20 per cent, while a person earning between $83,000 and 125,000 per month would be taxed at 25 per cent and will progressively increase. Higher salaries will attract a higher rate of tax.
This means that the more a person earns, the taxes paid become progressively higher. According to Ram, the Committee had also recommended that for Ministers, public officers and officials, Value Added Tax (VAT) should be restored on all passenger car imports and the differentiation of cars by age should be removed.
According to Ram, as the Minister continues to work on Budget 2018, “he may wish to consider that the majority of the TRC’s recommendations remain unimplemented.”
These unimplemented measures, he said, includes reducing immediately the Corporate Tax rate on telecommunication companies from 45 per cent to 40 per cent; and on commercial companies from 40 per cent to 35 per cent.
Ram noted that the Tax Reform Committee had called on the Administration to provide tax incentives, which themselves should be based on clear and rational criteria, through tax laws, which must include provisions for an annual review and withdrawal of the incentives where conditions are not met.
He said, in order to widen the tax net, grant a tax amnesty and address the presumptive tax.
As it relates to businesses, the Tax Reform Committee member called for an increase the VAT registration threshold from $10 million to $12 million. This would mean only businesses conducting business above $12 million would be required to register with VAT compliance.
Ram said too, “reduce the standard rate to 14 per cent and introduce an intermediate rate of seven per cent for some types of goods.”