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Aug 21, 2013

Eamon Courtney explains lawsuit against Belize International Services Limited

Eamon Courtenay

In June, the Government of Belize appropriated the International Business Companies Registry and the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, I.B.C. and IMMARBE, respectively, both operating under Belize International Services Limited. The reason given by G.O.B. was that an extension allowing BISL to operate until 2020 was invalid. The move sparked off threats of another round of endless litigation. But, since June all has been quiet on that front. Quiet, that is, until government fired the first salvo by assessing B.I.S.L. thirty million in taxes. Attorney for B.I.S.L., Eamon Courtenay, told News Five this morning that the assessment is unlawful and arbitrary and that’s why they were in court early Monday challenging that bill.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for BISL

“The government has assessed Belize International Services Limited thirty million dollars in tax and it is clearly an unlawful and arbitrary assessment and we have challenged it. What the Income and Business Tax Act says is that if the Commissioner assesses you to tax, in this case Belize International Services Limited, if you are assessed to tax at thirty million and you want to dispute it, you have to pay the thirty million before you can dispute it. In other words you have to pay to play. And we are saying that that is unconstitutional because the effect of that is to bar a party who does not have thirty million dollars or someone who does not have ten thousand dollars – you cannot then dispute an assessment and you are obliged to pay. Under the Income and Business Tax Act once an assessment is raised by the Commissioner, the Commissioner is obliged by law to collect it and therefore you have a situation where you can’t pay to have your matter challenged but at the same time he is obliged to collect it. And the Income and Business Tax Act has very coercive powers that are available to the Commissioner to deploy against Belize International Services. They have taken an objection to the matter, and what has happened is that the judge has said give an undertaking – which they offered – and the court accepted an undertaking that they would not do anything and we are probably going to have the issue relevant to their objection and the injunction dealt with on the same date. So that one is put off for a while.”

 

There is no indication of when the matter will be heard before the courts.

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