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Apr 3, 2003

Promised tax relief may arrive later

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For many Belizeans who receive their wages on a weekly basis, tomorrow is the first payday of the new financial year. And, if you were paying attention to the Prime Minister’s budget speech way back in January, you know that beginning April first the tax free exemption goes up from twenty thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand, thus putting more dollars in the pockets of thousand of working Belizeans…right? Not quite. Our accounting section made a perfunctory check with the Income Tax Department this afternoon in search of the new tax tables, only to be told that not only have no new tax tables been published, but they have received nothing from government concerning any new tax rates. According to Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Marilyn Ordonnez, any reduction in income tax would have to be done by legislation in the form of an amendment to the Income Tax Act. Such legislation has not yet even been tabled, let alone debated and passed. And while tomorrow the National Assembly meets in Belmopan, it is only a ceremonial opening and no real business will be conducted. While it is possible that the necessary legislation could be rushed through by month’s end and made retroactive to April first, we have been informed by government sources that while the tax relief will be made retroactive, the benefits will not be realized until next year when taxpayers file their 2003 income tax returns. Just for the record, we’ll play the relevant clip from the Prime Minister’s budget speech.

Prime Minister Said Musa, Budget Speech, Jan. 17, 2003

“And so our core government also proposes, effective April the first, to put more money in the hands of the people by raising the level of those exempted from personal income taxes from twenty thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand. Two thousand, five hundred more Belizeans will pay no personal income taxes whatsoever, which takes the grand total to fifty thousand, five hundred Belizeans that pay no income taxes. Our goal is to eliminate personal income taxes completely, placing this money in the pockets of the hardworking men and women of our country.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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