DOUBLES men in Port of Spain seemed unperturbed by a call by a tax expert for them to pay their taxes, with one saying he was already paying taxes, as his was a registered business.
Attorney Angelique Bart, speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year budget analysis at the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business in Mt Hope on Monday, said government should pay greater attention to the low and non tax-compliant sections of society, including doubles vendors and taxi drivers, as they did not pay taxes on the goods and services which they provide to the public.
Bart said, “My husband says of the doubles vendor — if I were to quit law, we could do that. Because you have 200 customers buying at $5 per doubles, in five minutes, how much money would you be making?
I can’t follow his math, but basically he is saying there is about 200-plus million on average that the doubles section of society generates. And we have to tackle that (in terms of tax compliance). We have to confront the issue.”
However, doubles vendors disagreed with her assessment. One said government should instead focus its efforts on the roulette machines which seems to be sprouting up at bars throughout the country. “We feeding the nation, because doubles is the national food,” one popular vendor on Chacon Street said.
“I think they should focus on these Chinese roulette machines, because they do not contribute to society,’ he said, adding, “My business is registered. We have a name — Chatterbox Doubles — so I pay my taxes.”
He also disputed Bart’s claim about the kind of income doubles vendors generate, saying his daily average was approximately 100 customers and not 200 customers in a five-minute period.
Reynold Deonarine, who has been selling doubles for the past 31 years at the popular Ali’s Doubles stand on Henry Street, agreed that doubles vendors should pay taxes, saying the Ali’s brand is a registered business, which pays all relevant taxes. “Everybody have to pay taxes. The economy has to move on. But you can’t kill people with taxes,” he said. “If you making money, you should pay.”
He also noted that the items used to make doubles, such as channa, flour and greaseproof paper ,were subject to value added tax (VAT).
“Everything we using, we does pay tax on. In fact, the prices on some items raise, like the greaseproof paper. But is something we have to live with,” he said. One customer, Terrance Mark, said he agrees that doubles vendors should pay taxes like other businesses.