Importers receive two week holiday from Sales Tax

In a surprising bit of good news for merchants--and presumably consumers--the Ministry of Finance today announced that all goods being imported into Belize between today and June thirtieth will not attract any Sales Tax. Geraldine Davis, coordinator of the G.S.T. Implementation Team, says that it's a measure that will hopefully take the sting out of the one-time double taxation price hike that the introduction of G.S.T. on July first may cause.

Geraldine Davis, Coordinator, G.S.T. Implementation Team
ďAs long as you are registered you are required, come the first of July, to start charging the G.S.T. which means that if you have some stock on hand, even if it has paid the Sales Tax, you would have to then apply the G.S.T. to that stock. Government, recognizing that this could push the price of goods up higher, decided to give relief to goods that are being imported in the next two weeks. Any item that is cleared between today and the thirtieth of June will not attract the Sales Tax. I think most merchants or importers have been taking our advice and running down their stock as much as possible. But you donít want to have a critical shortage of anything, right. So, these next two weeks, all goods that are imported will not attract any Sales Tax, which means that the merchant can put it in his store and then come the first of July, just add the G.S.T. to that. There could be some influx of large volume importation to take advantage of the situation. Remember the merchantsí wants to have the goods as tax-free as possible so that when he applies the G.S.T., the price doesnít go up too high. I mean not only the merchants, but also the consumers want that right. So what we are hoping, is that this will reduce the level of that kind of raising of the price, that the merchants will actually pass on the savings to the consumer and not add the G.S.T. to goods that have not even paid Sales Tax.Ē

For more information, please contact the G.S.T. Implementation Team at 222-5553. In related news, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called a meeting of its membership for nine Tuesday morning to discuss the problem of stock on hand and the G.S.T. According to a Chamber spokesperson, while the two week sales tax holiday is a nice gesture, it does not address the serious problem of merchants with million dollars of existing inventory that has already been subjected to the nine percent sales tax and when sold after July first, will also be liable for an additional ten percent in G.S.T.