JIS News

A Bill to amend the Assets Tax Specified Bodies Act, to give Ministerial powers to vary the rate of asset tax payable annually, was passed in the Senate last Friday (Nov.25).
Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who piloted the Bill, said the amendments would enable the Minister, by order and subject to affirmative resolution, to vary the rate of asset tax payable annually without amending the Bill each time; make the tax now collected under the Provisional Collection of Tax Act permanent instead of provisional; and increase the rate of asset tax payable annually by specified bodies such as companies registered under the Companies Act and societies registered under the Industrial and Providence Society’s Act.
Explaining further, Senator Whiteman said the existing legislation provided for annual tax payments as low as $100 for assets, which did not exceed $5000 with the highest rate being $10,000 when the aggregate value of the assets exceeded $10 million.
He said that with the adjustments, which have been made, payments would move from a low of $1000 to a maximum of $35,000, both for companies and registered societies.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Shirley Williams said that even though the sums considered were “small” the tax package recommended by the Matalon (Tax Review) Committee was to be looked at seriously.
She said if the Committee’s recommendation that the entire tax system be reviewed was adopted “ad hoc changes would not have to come before the House”.
Senator Williams noted that while she was in support of the Bill, it was high time the country’s taxation system be reviewed. “Please review the tax package that we all have to pay,” she added.
Senator Whiteman in his reply, said it was well known that the recommendations for tax reform were given serious consideration, noting that elements of the recommendations had already been adopted. “It is a work in progress, to adopt everything in one year would have created some serious dislocations,” he stated.
He however assured that the “Bill would not open the door for more punitive taxation”. This, he said, was as the additions “were almost a prorating situation”. “In the original provision, $100 for assets of $5000 was a two per cent tax, it is still the same now with $1000 for assets of $50,000”, Senator Whiteman said. “It is actually the same rate of tax,” he stated.
Furthermore, he pointed out that “it wasn’t the rate of taxes that was being increased but the values that were being adjusted. In all of this it is not any major increase in terms of quantum but it is just a provision that we adjust from time to time,” he stated.