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Oct 1, 2014

BISL Victorious In Court Against Government, Tax Assessment Ruled Unlawful

Eamon Courtenay

There have been a number of weighty matters in the court this week. Today, Government suffered a blow in the Supreme Court in their legal battle concerning the takeover of the International Business Companies Registry and the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, I.B.C. and IMMARBE. When the Government took over the Registries in June 2013, the Commissioner of Income Tax, Kent Clare, also levied thirty million Belize dollars worth of tax assessments on Belize International Services Limited, the company which operated the registries. The government claimed the assessment was for taxes allegedly unpaid between 1993 and 2013.  BISL challenged those assessments on the basis that it was exempt, since it was an IBC. It also challenged, as unconstitutional, the provisions of the Income and Business Tax Act, which forced a person to pay an assessment before it could be challenged. Arguments were heard months ago and this morning, Justice Shona Griffith ruled that in fact the company was an IBC and therefore exempt from taxes. The Commissioner of Income Tax, therefore, had no jurisdiction to assess BISL for taxes. Attorney Eamon Courtenay represented BISL; after the ruling he spoke to the media.

 

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for BISL

“What happened is that the government made an assessment against the Belize International Services Limited who used to manage the registries for shipping.  They assessed the company for over thirty million dollars in taxes way back in 1993. What the judge has said was that was an unlawful assessment; she said so because Section One Thirty of the International Business Company Act specifically exempts all IBCs from the payment of taxes. So she quashed the assessment by the commissioner. Very importantly what the judge said was that the argument by the government that BISL was carrying on business with residents in Belize was afoul of Section Five of the Act which then meant that they were available to be taxed, she said that that is wrong, even if you carry on business with residents in Belize which is not allowed by the law, it doesn’t mean that you are not an IBC.  You continue to be an IBC but you are subject to a fine and it does not mean that you are being able to be assessed.”

 

Reporter

“What does this mean for the concurrent claim in regard to the taking over of the two registries?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“That is in another court and that will come up later this month before Madam Justice Arana. Where we are seeking are constitution relief and damages for the unlawful taking of our client’s property but that is before Justice Arana. It is helpful to the client because what we were facing was an assessment for thirty million dollars with interest and penalties continuing to accrue on the one hand and clearly the government was going to say they will set off whatever damages in the other matter against the thirty million, but there is no thirty million dollars now.”

 

BISL has also filed a claim against the Government for damages from the takeover of the IBC Registry and IMMARBE.

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1 Response for “BISL Victorious In Court Against Government, Tax Assessment Ruled Unlawful”

  1. Harrison says:

    Just good for Income tax dept-they always want to tax and chancy businesses employing money and paying taxes but want to calculate wrong and high and squeeze everyone until the people want to just lie and pay nothing.

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