Senate Approves Amendment to Income Tax Act – Fines and Penalties Increased


The Senate approved amendments to the Income Tax Act on Thursday (March 18) in order to increase the fines and penalties payable under the Act to more realistic levels and to empower the Minister, subject to affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives, to increase or otherwise vary all fines and penalties under the Act.
Supporting the Bill, Government Senator Trevor Munroe reminded his colleagues that in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between government and trade unions representing public sector workers, the parties had agreed to review the income tax threshold during the life of the agreement.
“One of the reasons why that clause is there is because of the inequitable burden now resting on the PAYE person,” he explained, adding that workers had a definite interest in giving every encouragement to the government, despite fiscal constraints, to ensure that as soon as possible, the tax-free threshold could be raised to give employees an incentive. He asked his colleagues in government to pay particular attention to reviewing this issue, in order to strengthen the partnership between government and public sector workers, giving encouragement to production and productivity.
Opposition Senator Bruce Golding argued that the provision in the law which said that annual returns must be filed by January 14 of each year, was an impractical one, given the fact that most companies did stock taking in December, then went off for the holidays and often did not return to work until the end of the first week of January.
Responding, Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who piloted the Bill, noted that in the more efficient enterprises, the quarterly returns were kept up to date and as such, the presentation of the annual returns would only require a bringing forward of those returns plus the last quarter. “The fact is that it now works for some and it could work for more (companies),” he stated. Senator Whiteman further said that Government had been responsive over the years to the plight of the situation of workers and had been consistently lifting the income tax threshold over the years.

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