The TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TT Chamber) denies misunderstanding statements contained in the recent IMF Country Report about VAT refunds.
Speaking with Newsday last evening, TT Chamber CEO Gabriel Faria said, “Our position is still what it was before.
“If you read the ‘Tax Administration’ comments on page 12 of the report, it says that, ‘Delays in the payment of VAT refunds not only impact businesses’ cash flow, but may also affect compliance.’ Unfortunately, the ministry’s release doesn’t refer to that section at all.”
In its statement, issued earlier yesterday, the Finance Ministry quoted the IMF sentence about tax arrears. It reads, “The outstanding principal amount of tax arrears is at 11 per cent of GDP as of end-March 2017 while the Doing Business survey ranks Trinidad and Tobago 145th in its “paying taxes” index.”
The ministry also referred to diagrams on page 12 of the report which it said “indicate tax arrears owed BY businesses TO the State and not vice versa, which it has estimated at 11 per cent of GDP or approximately $16 billion.”
Responding to this, Faria said “We are concerned that the ministry did not address the issue we raised that delays in VAT refunds of an average of 12 to 18 months is having a negative impact on businesses’ cash flows. Some of our members have said they can’t pay salaries because they’re still waiting on VAT refunds to do so.”
Seeking transparency in the matter, Faria told Newsday the chamber was asking the ministry through the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) to provide a document to the public showing the current ageing of VAT refunds.