Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, while speaking at his most recent press conference on July 17, revealed that his Team Unity Cabinet made the decision to extend the amnesty on property tax following a request by the Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Department, Mr. Edward Gift.
“So the property tax amnesty will now end at the end of August 2018. This is intended to save tax payers the interest and other charges on the arrears of taxes and we hope that taxpayers will comply with the tax laws and pay their taxes on time going forward,” Prime Minister Harris said.
At an event to signal the relocation of the Inland Revenue Department to the John Gumbs Building on the Bay Road in late June, Prime Minister Harris underscored the importance of healthy revenue collections by the different agencies of the state, particularly the IRD, to the continued development of the twin island Federation.
Dr. Harris noted then that without the collection from these agencies, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis “would not be able to finance education; we certainly would not be able to increase the budget which has tripled with respect to national security; we certainly would not be able to add to the CCTV programme and we certainly would not be able to provide the vehicles at the round-a-bouts and [other] strategic intersections of Basseterre and the country.”
Importantly to note is that the Government has witnessed a significant increase in tax collections in the country over the period 2015 to 2017, with the highest level of tax compliance being witnessed in 2017.
Data from the Inland Revenue Department shows that tax compliance staggered at 27 percent in 2011; 32 percent in 2012, then stood at 33 percent in 2013 and 2014.
Under the Team Unity Administration tax compliance increased on an annual basis. In 2015, the IRD saw an improvement in tax compliance to 35 percent; in 2016, it again increased to 40 percent, and in 2017, the department saw another increase in tax compliance to 47 percent, which is the highest in the department’s history.