from a friend....
GST. The government implemented this monstrosity without thinking through
the consequences or properly training businesses.
As a travel agency based in Belize, I have to pay GST on the difference
between what I pay to the resorts and other tour operators on GST applicable
items, and what clients pay to me. Basically, that means my commission on
tours, meals and transfers.
The thing is, most times I don't make a commission on any of those things
from hotels - only the hotel room, which is not subject to GST.
However, under the GST law, I HAVE to have a GST compliant invoice to show
that I paid GST to the resort even if the net gain to me is zero. So, if
the resort charges me $200 for meals and transfers, they'll also charge me
$20 for GST, which of course I pass on to my client. When I pay the hotel,
I pay them $220.
However, if I don't have a GST compliant invoice for the hotels showing that
they charged me $220, then the law says that I have to again pay the $20 to
the GST folks.
Problem 1: Only travel agencies in Belize have to have a GST invoice.
There are only maybe 20 of us in the country. That means that resorts have
to change their entire procedure for a handful of people - maybe only 4 or
5, since not all travel agents in the country represent a full range of
resorts and lodges. That means we're a problem, and it's much easier for
them to deal with out of country agencies and not have to deal with all that
paperwork AND get paid in US dollars.
Problem 2: The government has basically made the travel agencies
responsible for enforcing the law. If we don't have the proper GST invoice,
then we're the ones who are penalized by not being able to claim a credit
for the GST already paid to the hotel. The hotels and resorts already find
us a problem to deal with (see Problem no. 1) and if we make too much
trouble, they can just cancel our reservations - or refuse to accept them,
so we don't have a lot of leverage.
Problem 3: No matter how many times I carefully make a list of what has to
be on the GST invoice, include a cite to the Website for the regulations,
and even the section number of the regulations, I find it's almost
impossible to get an invoice that satisfies the regulations. (FYI, if
you're interested, the GST invoice requirements are in Section 13 of the
regulations, which can be found at www.gst.gov.bz.
They're not difficult to
understand, believe me.)
Problem 4: Other travel agencies aren't aware of the full requirements, or
don't seem to care. Two of us actually went to see the GST Commissioner to
clarify what is required, but we don't seem to be able to convince any of
our cohorts that the law means what it says, and so does the commissioner.
Consequently, I'm told by a few resorts that I'm the only one asking for
this kind of GST Invoice.
Any suggestions? I've begged, cajoled, suggested, corrected, etc., etc.,
etc. Of course, not everybody is a problem, but I now have 6 files sitting
on my desk from last month, and 4 from this month for which I don't have
correct invoices. I can't do my taxes for last month without them, and the
ones from this month keep piling up.
At this point, the only thing I can think of to do is tattle, which will
make me highly popular -- or move out of the country so I don't have to deal
with all this.