Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has extended the tax amnesty for two more weeks to October 1, "to give taxpayers some more time to file their returns, and in recognition of the difficulties associated with the covid19 pandemic.”
The announcement came via a press release on Saturday after long lines of people were spotted outside the Inland Revenue Division at Government Campus Plaza, Port of Spain on Friday, the last day of the amnesty period.
The amnesty allowed the waiver of penalties and interest owed by taxpayers on a host of tax liabilities, under Act No 10 of 2021, and covers taxes up to May 31, 2021.
These include individual income tax, pay-as-you-earn (PAYE), health surcharge, corporation tax, business levy, Green Fund levy, value added tax (VAT), petroleum profits tax, supplemental petroleum tax, unemployment levy, stamp duty, property tax (Under the Lands and Buildings Taxes and Municipal Corporations Taxes Act), club gaming tax, gaming amusement tax and withholding tax.
While the tax return form was to be filled out and submitted online, taxpayers had to print out the last page to personally sign and physically take to a tax office, along with any payment to be made, all apparently resulting in the long lines.
On July 2, Imbert announced the tax amnesty from July 5-September 17, while piloting the Finance Bill 2021 in the House of Representatives. It was the Government’s fourth amnesty.
“The amnesty is applicable for the years up to December 31, 2020, and for the period January 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021," Imbert had said.
“(It) grants relief from penalties and outstanding interest once the tax liability is paid between the dates of July 5, 2021 and September 17, 2021."
Imbert had hinted then of another possible extension to file returns.
“The minister, as we have done in the past, will be able to prescribe a later date by order to extend that period if it becomes necessary,” he said on July 2.
He had warned if a tax or penalty remained outstanding after September 17, the interest and penalties will be revived, to become payable as if the amnesty did not exist.
“The last tax amnesty in 2019 yielded an astonishing sum of $2.4 billion, way beyond our wildest expectations. We had expected to get maybe a billion,” Imbert told the House.