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Apr 21, 2017

Tax men accused of mishandling system of arrears and refunds for G.S.T.

On Thursday we told you about the backlash against the Government’s dismissal of alleged manipulation of audits by senior management of the General Sales Tax Department conducted by lower level officials, such as officer in charge of Punta Gorda Town Elmer Reyes. Reyes wrote Solicitor General Nigel Hawke outlining his concerns, but he was dismissed in a response issued a few days later and recently revealed by the Government. In a follow up we can report that the Auditor General’s Office was investigating the process of audit inspection in the G.S.T. Department and how it applied the G.S.T. Act for the period January 2009 to December 2012. News Five has copies of two memoranda from the Auditor General to the Commissioner of General Sales Tax dated January fourteenth, 2014, in which it proposed to investigate the late issuance of refunds to taxpayers, the accuracy of the report of arrears in taxes; measures to collect and pursue due taxes, including court proceedings if needed. The audit found that nearly eight hundred thousand dollars in refunds due during the period were not issued within three months or assessed against outstanding taxes per the Act and interest of one percent was not paid. In all, sixteen million dollars was withheld due to ongoing audits, including to some well-known businesses. However, some agents got repaid twice and there were issues with the same refund number issued to different agents. The Department, due to alleged inputting errors, showed refunds of close to a million dollars due for several major businesses, while others were hauled to court and entered into payment plans to clear arrears. Separately, the Audit Department itself audited records of the G.S.T. Department for randomly selected businesses. Some of the records were illegible and of no help to the auditors, but several others found irregularities including underreported sales, misclaimed input for taxes and short collections. There is more to come and News Five continues to follow the story.



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