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Jul 29, 2014

BISL Takes GOB to Court Over $30 Million Tax Assessment…

Eamon Courtenay

On June eleventh, 2013, the Government of Belize assumed control of the shipping and companies’ registries that were managed by Belize International Services Limited. That led to a round of litigation in which BISL challenged the legality of the acquisition and is seeking compensation. But there is another angle in the seemingly unending litigation involving government. Even before the acquisition, lawful or otherwise, BISL was assessed thirty million dollars in unpaid taxes. This morning the parties were in court, where BISL attorney Eamon Courtenay told News Five that they are challenging the assessment because it is unlawful and unconstitutional.

 

Eamon Courtenay. Attorney for Belize International Services Limited

“Just shortly before that the Commissioner of Income Tax assessed the company for taxes for thirty million dollars going back for twenty years, and this case was a challenge to that. Basically the argument was that Belize International Services Limited is an IBC and an IBC is not subject to tax and if you’re not subject to tax then the commissioner cannot tax the company. Their argument was that the Belize International Services Limited was carrying on business with persons resident in Belize and therefore it lost its tax-free status, but it was very clear that Section one thirty of the Act makes it that even if you lose your status that you are not liable to tax, and we were very clear to the court that there is no evidence that the company had lost its status as an IBC and therefore it continued to enjoy the benefit of a tax concession.”

 

Reporter

“How does this affect the case where the government acquired the companies?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“No this is a different one. That other case which is another case before Justice Arana, the company is seeking compensation from the government for the unlawful acquisition. I think it is no mystery…this is not the first time that the government has done this…what it does is it takes people’s property, and then it manufactures a false tax assessment and tries to set off whatever they owe against it. It has to be seen for what it is and the government should stop using the tax code as a weapon against persons whose property it has taken.”

 

Reporter

“If the court rules in your favour what are your clients seeking?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“In this particular case that the tax assessments for thirty million dollars are null and void, unlawful and unconstitutional…they will be struck down.”

 

Courtenay maintains that BISL’s only income was for managing the Shipping and Companies’ Registries, and since government has taken those companies it is unable to pay the tax.

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