Only one web shop fully compliant in paying gaming taxes
Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that only one gaming house has been fully compliant in paying taxes owed to the government.
This follows an announcement in February that the government had reached an agreement with gaming houses over taxes on the industry.
“As I’ve said before, there’s been some delay in collections,” Turnquest said outside Cabinet.
“We continue to work with the gaming industry to have them accept and agree that the negotiated position that we’ve arrived at is fair to all concerned, and they ought to now meet their commitment.
“There are two of the gaming houses, one is completely compliant, the other is partially compliant, and there are some that are not compliant.
“And we encourage all of them, regardless of what you think, regardless of any legal challenge that might be out there that you intend to mount, that you have an obligation to the state to pay your taxes and again, for my part, my job is to collect the government taxes that are due and I certainly would encourage them to meet their commitment.”
The government has collected roughly $18.2 million of its $50 million target for gaming tax revenue in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
Turnquest indicated last month that the government was not likely to make up the full difference before the end of the budget year, but noted that the government intends to collect all outstanding amounts.
He also said that the government would go to court over the matter if it is not otherwise resolved.
During the budget communication last May, the government announced a sliding scale tax on gaming house revenues and a five percent stamp tax on deposits.
However, after widespread backlash from gaming operators who claimed that the new taxes would be detrimental to their businesses, and a lawsuit, the government agreed to delay the enforcement of those taxes.
In February, the government announced that it had reached an agreement with gaming house operators which would result in a collection of $35 million annually from the sliding scale tax on net taxable revenue and $15 million from a tax on winnings as a result of lottery bets.
However, according to Turnquest, several of the gaming houses have since indicated that they do not support the agreement that was reached, and have refused to pay.
Attorney General Carl Bethel said he has met with draftspersons to discuss ways of improving the enforcement of laws regarding gaming taxes, noting that the government will “take legal steps in the coming weeks to enforce the laws in The Bahamas and the law that requires them to pay the 11 percent”.