Belize Tax Service is Here
This morning at the Charles Bartlett Hyde Building, government officially launched the Belize Tax Service. The amalgamated department aims to provide optimal services where GST and income tax are concerned. The new management team will work on the redesign of the department according to existing good practices and standards for tax administration and the delivery of services to taxpayers. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The Belize Tax Service, a consolidation of the General Sales Tax and the Income Tax departments, was formally introduced today. In October 2018, the Government of Belize appointed Michelle Longsworth as program manager to assist with the modernization of tax administration in the country. The result was a restructuring of both departments to integrate with other government agencies and financial institutions, as well as the private sector and citizenry.
Michelle Longsworth, Director General, Belize Tax Service
“Today, we say farewell to the Department of General Sales Tax and the Income Tax Department, not to dismiss the years it took to build two departments essential to the development of our country, but we say farewell to welcome our transition to the Belize Tax Service under which we combine our strengths and our resources of the old departments to provide superior service as the new tax professional. As the new tax professional, we will continue to live by the core values of professionalism and integrity that both department shared.”
The Belize Tax Service Department will introduce significant changes in legal, organizational, operational and technology frameworks for administering taxes in Belize.
Lisa Clare, Deputy Director General, BTS
“When there is the integration of income tax and GST we no longer have taxpayers having to do things separately at income tax and separately at GST. All the replicated functions will be merged and they will be single unified processes. There will also be the high quality of taxpayers services, taxpayers able to fulfill their tax obligations, that of filing and paying and doing so on time. Taxpayers now will have the ability to access and view their accounts online which they are not able to do currently.”
Financial Secretary Joseph Waight admits that achieving tax modernization is belated, however, the delay has allowed for Belize to learn from the experiences of other countries within the region that have implemented the new systems.
Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary
“We finally got funding from the I.D.B. to purchase a brand new, up-to-date tax administration system. So really, it was a question of funding, technical assistance and also it’s a cultural change for us. As I said, we were one of the last in the Caribbean to do so but we also had the benefit of learning from the mistakes and maybe missteps of others. It is long in coming but I’m glad it’s here and it’s a new beginning for us, integrated, better service for our taxpayers and hopefully a little more revenue as well.”