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Jun 28, 2019

A Closer Look at Documents which Shows B.T.L.’s Purported GST Debt

Still on B.T.L., records obtained by our newsroom, show that Belize Telemedia Limited owes the Government of Belize tens of millions of dollars in unpaid General Sales Tax.  According to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, the G.S.T. Department is currently conducting an audit of the company’s financial records, but B.T.L.’s Chairman, Nestor Vasquez, vehemently says that the telecom giant is up to date with its taxes and does not owe G.O.B. a single penny. The trove of leaked documents, however, show otherwise pointing to a twenty-nine point three million dollars debt that B.T.L. has purportedly racked up in G.S.T. over the course of six years, from 2012 to 2017.  Coupled with a ten percent annual penalty and an eighteen percent interest per annum, the debt is reported to be a total of some fifty point one million dollars in taxes. And, if we add on the expected G.S.T. shortfall over the past two years, the total debt would now amount to well over sixty million dollars.  So the question is: how did the state-owned company rack up such a huge debt? News Five has been taking a closer look at the documents and experts point to two contributing factors.  The first relates to the sale of B.T.L. services. During the period, B.T.L. reportedly paid General Sales Tax based on total sales of one hundred and three million dollars. But according to B.T.L.’s business tax returns, the company made two hundred and ninety-nine million dollars in sales, all of which should have been subject to tax. It would then mean that B.T.L. did not report one hundred and ninety million dollars on their G.S.T. returns.  So during that period, more than twenty-four million dollars in tax were not paid.  The second factor relates to the disposal of B.T.L. equipment.  News Five has learned that B.T.L. purportedly did not pay tax on revenues made from the sale of equipment.  B.T.L. should have paid some four point two million dollars in G.S.T. based on the revenue collected from that sale. FinSec Waight says that while an audit is ongoing, no assessment has been issued and so there is no claim against B.T.L.  This, according to Waight, is not a “live matter.”


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