The issue of delays in tax refunds has been a constant complaint especially on the morning talk shows. In an effort to address the numerous enquiries, the Belize Income Tax Department has developed an initiative in the form of two hotlines dedicated to dealing with enquires.

Kent Clare- Commissioner of Income Tax
“The department has had a number of complaints, in terms of the perception that many people are not getting refunds. We wanted to kind of clarify what the position is and also to advise tax payers how we can even improve on the service that we are already giving. We have issued over 3.3 million in refunds so far for this year, and that is with over six-thousand persons. Notwithstanding that there are some persons who continue to have difficulties getting it. So that is why we decided to invest in two hotlines, and if tax payers call these numbers, the persons manning these phones will deal specifically with their phone inquiry. “

Ava Diaz Sosa - Reporter
What are some the reasons that an employee might have his or her refund delayed?

Kent Clare- Commissioner of Income Tax
“Well, what comes to mind immediately would be, one, in cases where there is some incomplete information; persons many times work with more than one employer. And unfortunately, what we have been finding out is that the information that they provide to one, might not necessarily be the same that they gave to the other. So, to kind of address the issue, we have a thing that is called a T.I.N. a Taxpayer Identification Number, which is supposed to be unique. And clarification of that has been an issue over time, because getting the taxpayer complete information, their date of birth, social security number, has been a challenge, but we have hired person’s who have specifically to kind of address that clarification of our database, so to speak. The second one and the more common one would be issues where the employer continues to be a problem and we actually need to go in and help them with their paper work. We’re hopeful that all the taxes are paid in, if the employer withholds the taxes from you and doesn’t pay it in that becomes an issue. At many times though it’s paid to a different account and that sort of thing so it inquires our officers to go in and clarify the position. So those are the two main reasons."

Ava Diaz-Sosa - Reporter These numbers that you are introducing, will these be operated during normal working hours, or will it be twenty-four hours?

Kent Clare- Commissioner of Income Tax
“Well, unfortunately in the first instance, during normal office working hours, even during the lunch hour as well. What we are hoping to do, we have to negotiate with the Ministry of Finance. BTL has suggested that we get a zero eight hundred number, which will make it even better for taxpayers, especially if we can have a recording service attached to that. That is midterm to long term, but right now, in the short term, only during normal working hours. And we want to encourage our taxpayers, listen, even if you don’t know the numbers, 604-3900 and 604-6800, you can still continue to call the regular numbers listed in the telephone directory, and we will give you the attention it deserves. “