Locals struggle with GST

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 33            August 17, 2006

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GST Officer Josephine Tamai listens to a question from Andre Perez about the GST return. August 15th was the deadline for the first GST returns which prompted many questions about the filing process.

August 15th marked the deadline to submit the first General Sale Tax (GST) returns which found many frustrated taxpayers with more questions than answers. Two GST officers were in San Pedro Monday and Tuesday to help with these questions. Josephine Tamai and Carla Pollard were at the Sub Treasury office in San Pedro where they said they saw a consistent number of visitors. They said that many of the answers people were seeking could have been found by reading one of the many booklet’s written about the subject, or to visit the website: www.gst.gov.bz.

   Francisco Carmona owns and operates FC’s Welding, a small mechanic and welding shop. He said he was very frustrated with the tax return. “It’s been a real headache,” he grumbled. “I may need extra people to do all this work, and I don’t see that I’m getting anything back for my taxes.”

   Emerilis Polanco was submitting the return for her employer, Caye Coffee. “It was very confusing,” she complained.

   Andre Perez said the GST reminded him of the former VAT tax from years past. Although he said his business may benefit from the tax, because many of his baked goods from Casa Pan Dulce receive exempt status, he said he worries about the small businesses that may be hurt by the tax. “Once again it is on the backs of the middle class and the poor to pay the bulk of the taxes.”

    One of the biggest errors the Tax Officers cited was the absence of documentation when deducting GST taxes paid. Although these receipts are not submitted with the returns, businesses must still have them in case they are ever audited.

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