AG warns gaming operators to pay taxes
As he led debate on the 2019/2020 budget in the Senate yesterday, Attorney General Carl Bethel warned gaming house operators who owe the government back taxes to pay up.
“Pay your tax,” Bethel said.
He also charged that there are some lawyers who are making a “cottage industry” out of suing the government.
“This is an excellent budget,” Bethel said.
“It reflects excellent financial out-turns, even with a loss of significant revenue from the gaming houses because of the endless lawsuits and threats to lawsuits.”
He continued, “The law requires, where there is a settled tax law, that if anybody wishes to challenge it they must pay their tax.
“…If the court supports you, the government will do whatever the court says. But the law of The Bahamas is clear on this matter.
“If there is a settled law passed and you have a dispute with it you are entitled to sue, but you must pay and comply with the law until a court says otherwise.”
Bethel has said that the government is prepared to take gaming house operators to court over unpaid taxes.
Last May, the government announced a sliding scale tax on gaming house revenues and a five percent stamp tax on deposits.
Legal action from gaming operators forced the government to abandon this tax structure.
The government and gaming house operators have since agreed to a new scale, which will tax gaming houses with net taxable revenue from $0 to $24 million at a rate of 15 percent, and those with net taxable revenue over $24 million at a rate of 17.5 percent.
Additionally, a five percent tax on winnings up to $1,000 and a 7.5 percent tax on winnings over $1,000 will be implemented.
All back taxes at the previous 11 percent rate are expected to be collected before the end of this fiscal year.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who is the minister responsible for gaming, said last week the government expects to collect $50 million from gaming house operators in the upcoming fiscal year.