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Komst FlyAllways Naar St. Maarten

De nieuwe Surinaamse luchtvaartmaatschappij, Fly All Ways, is van plan vanaf 3 september 2016 wekelijks vanaf Suriname via Georgetown, Guyana, naar St. Maarten te vliegen met een stop in Barbados. Deze wekelijkse vlucht zal met een Fokker 70 met 80 stoelen uitgevoerd worden. Deze eerste serie vluchten zal tot en met 2 oktober 2016 duren. De tweede serie vluchten zal wekelijks vanaf 15 december 2016 tot en met 15 januari 2017 uitgevoerd worden. Indien de bezetting en vraag vanuit de markt dat verantwoordt zal nadien elke week een vlucht vanuit Suriname via Guyana naar St. Maarten rechtstreeks uitgevoerd worden.

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Gedurende de actieve vluchtcampagnes kunnen mensen vanaf St. Maarten naar Suriname en Guyana vliegen voor $680 US Dollars en naar Barbados voor slechs $450 US Dollars. Deze vluchen zal mensen die gewend zijn met LIAT, Caribbean Airlines en Inselair naar Guyana en Suriname te vliegen een goed alternattief bieden.

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De mensen die deze vluchten van Fly All Ways willen boeken kunnen vanaf heden terecht bij reisbureau Let's Travel op St. Maarten in Philipburg om te reserveren. Men kan bellen via +1-721-542-2381, emailen via info@letstravelsxm.com of online boeken. Boek hier...


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Thursday, 06 February 2014 04:38

Who Is Not Paying Their Taxes?

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Country St. Maarten has shown a positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the past years, but yet the tax receipts reflects a stable to flat tax compliance rate. Something must be direly wrong with the math. This, therefore, begs the question: Who is not paying their fair share of required taxes?

Let us rule out the minimum wage earners and the middle income earners. They are mostly staff workers with companies whose tax contributions and social premiums are (mostly) automatically deducted from their salaries. Small and medium entrepreneurs tend to adhere to good business practices and tend to be good corporate citizens who will pay up their Wage Tax, Turnover Tax and Profit Tax.

So, who or which entities are holding out on St. Maarten? This question kept going through the minds of attendees at a recent lecture at the University of St. Martin (USM), at which Chairman of the Board for Financial Supervision (College Financieel Toezicht), Age Bakker spoke about “Sound Public Finances” in the context of a solid foundation for sustainable growth in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom.

Bakker said, “St. Maarten is an interesting country within the Kingdom. Economically speaking, St. Maarten has performed very well over the past decade.”

In recent years, our country has shown steady, albeit modest economic growth in the range of 1 to 1.5 per cent. St. Maarten’s budgetary problems are much smaller than those of Curaçao, The Netherlands or Aruba. He attributed St. Maarten's growth to the fact that the country boasts a far younger population, well-capitalized social funds and healthy government-owned companies. Government debt at around 30 per cent of GDP is relatively low and there is a credible exchange rate linked with the US dollar.

Up to this point, the story is good.

St. Maarten's Achilles' heel appears to be that while the country is doing well, its government is characterized by weak finances that have made it even more difficult for government to provide the level of public services to match with the aspiration levels of the population.

Of particular concern is the apparent failure to enforce tax compliance that would raise additional tax revenues without the burden of an across-the-board tax hike for all good and consistent tax payers.

Bakker said, “Tax revenues in the recent period have been basically flat, if not declining. Tax revenues were NAf. 411 million in 2011, 416 million in 2012 and are expected to be in the order of NAf. 405 million in 2013. As St. Maarten has not been able to borrow for investment since past budgets were not drawn up in accordance with the Kingdom laws, the liquidity position of the government has shown steady deterioration to the point that something needs to be done.”

Over the three-year period (2011-2013), the cumulative growth of nominal GDP, that is the sum of real economic growth and price inflation, has been close to 13 per cent. However, over the same period, tax revenues remained stable. If tax revenue collection kept pace with the nominal GDP growth there would have been additional fiscal availability of NAf. 55 million.

Why does it seem like our Tax Department is not going after that NAf. 55 million? The man in the street and even some business owners will be quick to say: “Stop coming after the small man or the regular taxpayers, set your sights on the big evaders’.

In fairness to the Tax Department, there has been talk of a revamped tax system to be implemented sometime soon. So let us hope this system works in a fair manner. Bakker is of the opinion that, for the government to be able to provide the basic services to the population, it is imperative to increase the tax base and improve tax compliance. In doing so, it is important that the strongest shoulders bear the heaviest burden. From the perspective of the ordinary folk, the perception exists that the rich folks are dodging their tax responsibilities.

Call for Certificate of Tax Compliance

Some learned business sources have suggested that an independent auditing body should be set up in St. Maarten to access businesses and give them a certificate of tax compliance. Like an ISO-9001 certificate. Or a certificate of good behaviour in the area of tax compliance. Of course, this would be completely on a voluntary basis, but if one business has a Certificate of Tax Compliance - issued by a certification agency or bureau - and another business doesn't, the community population can easily draw their own conclusions.

The tax inspectorate is legally not allowed to give out information about who is paying their taxes, or not, as they are bound by confidentiality rules, so the non-tax-payers are getting away “blame-free” for this deteriorating situation. An independent agency, that has the permission of a company to come in and audit their books to certify if they are tax compliant and issue a tax compliance certificate, would have the freedom to make a public statement as to the tax compliant nature of any participating business. That would be the first step in increasing the tax compliance rate on St. Maarten, especially in the business sector where the most money is being generated in the island's economy.

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