The third annual Revenue Tax fair was held today at the CB Hyde administration complex on Mahogany Street. Now a tax fair sounds like about as much fun as an evening with the Grim Reaper - but it actually wasn't that bad.
Three major government revenue departments along with several social partners, played host to hundreds of curious visitors, comprising mostly primary school students.
The Income Tax department created the event three years ago to sensitize the public about the importance revenue collection in their daily lives.
Commissioner of Income Tax, Kent Clare, says this year the revenue departments are working at convincing the public, especially the business sector, that there are some attractive incentives in place for those taxpayers who are compliant in paying their taxes.
Kent Clare, Commissioner of Income Tax
"It will actually contribute to reduce cost to the tax payer and to the department when taxpayers know what is out there, what pitfalls they can avoid, and how to take advantage of what is there. We did a presentation for example last year with the chamber to explain to businesses - that they can take advantage of business losses - and many persons have not heard of that, so tax payer - there is no cost that you can put like on what's happening here."
"When we started off, like we had said, the fair was originally an income tax fair, but there are moves for better integration, especially the revenue department, and I think in the next couple of years you might actually be seeing a movement towards a revenue authority instead of a distinct income tax or GST or Customs. Maybe they excise part of Customs. We are moving towards that."
"Are people still resistant to paying taxes?"
"I think that has changed. A lot of people have come to grips to the fact that, especially in the view of that fact, that donor funds are depleting. You might have seen on the news recently, I am quite certain you as a newscaster are familiar with the fact that quite a few of the NGOs are losing financing from governments who are saying 'listen, we can't afford it any longer.' So for us to continue to provide the goods and services that the public needs we have to do it with our own taxes. So many business persons are not so much resistant to paying. What they want to know is that there is fairness; there is equity. 'If I am paying, the person next door should be paying.' As long as we do that and we give them their rights and really explore all the options, I think they are good with it."
"And define for the public what exactly you hope to achieve from these annual revenue fair such as this one."
"One of the things it does is benchmarks your tax administration. It shows that when you do a rating of the administration, that you provide adequate tax payer education services. From time to time, just like how you have the IMF evaluating the government and its finances and so on, there are agencies that evaluate tax administrations and they look at transparency and that sort of thing. So this kind of education, this outreach that is invaluable."
The fair continues tomorrow.