January 23, 2009
Inland Revenue cracking down on delinquent tax payers

Approximately $1 million has been garnished from delinquent tax payers since late last year, and the Inland Revenue Department is determined to go all the way to get the tax owed.{{more}}

“We have begun seizing money from some accounts. It is time to make an example of some people. We are resolute and determined,”Comptroller of Inland Revenue Kelvin Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT.

Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT that it is the first time that the department has been so aggressive, but the time is right.

He said that the department is working with the Attorney General to take further action against 24 persons and businesses.

The smallest amount of money owed by the targeted persons is $250,000, while some owe up to $1.4 million, Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT.

They form part of the group of delinquents that the Comptroller said last year owed a combined $133 million at the end of 2007.

Self employed professionals head this list, and Pompey confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT that they are among those being targeted by the department.

While Pompey would not say what types of professionals are being delinquent, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, had said in June of 2008 that Lawyers lead the list of professionals owing taxes.

He said some 40 Lawyers owe a combined $7.5 million in taxes. This claim was repeated recently by Attorney General Judith Morgan, at a special sitting of the High Court.

Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT that the department, while determined to get the money owed, is going about it carefully.

“We are making sure that we dot our I’s and cross our T’s,” Pompey said.

Pompey said that the department is going all the way and will be looking at levying on buildings and properties in the near future “with the adequate legal support.”

Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT that in the past, the department had tried the approach of reasoning and educating persons about their responsibility to do their self-assessment and file their returns.

He said, however, that while most citizens are compliant, some are determined to cheat the government coffers.

“These people, seeing us use that approach (reasoning and educating), they think we are soft, unwilling to implement the tough measures,” he said.(KJ)