Govt will not forgive outstanding taxes owed by web shops
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that the government would not forgive any outstanding taxes owed by non-compliant gaming houses.
During a press conference at the Ministry of Tourism, D’Aguilar said that three gaming houses are compliant with paying gaming taxes.
He said, “…That represents 70 percent of the revenue.
“But we’re negotiating with the remaining four.
“But we can negotiate all we want. At the end of the day they will have to come compliant with the tax that’s due. So we’re not in any way going to forgive any of the debts.”
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 Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, several of the gaming houses have since indicated that they do not support the agreement that was reached, and have refused to pay.
At the end of April, the government had 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.
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”.