By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has collected nearly $28m in value added tax since the January 1 implementation date, according to Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis.
The Golden Isles MP told The Tribune that $11m has been collected from the Department of Customs at the country’s borders and $17m was taken in from large businesses – those making more than $5m in gross sales – during the first filing period.
The deadline for the first filing period was Monday, March 2. Mr Halkitis said more than 90 per cent of registered businesses submitted their returns and payments on time. He said the government is “very pleased” and “encouraged” by the numbers.
“The first filing period was for large business and we expected 328 businesses to file. For businesses making over $20m we expected 98 and got 90 and for business making more than $5m but less than $20m we expected 230 and got 205, so that’s 90 per cent compliance, we are obviously pleased with those numbers,” he said.
“We collected around $11m in January at the border and $17m in returns from companies that filed for a total of $28m. Those numbers are in the range that we expected, actually better than our forecast, so we are happy so far that compliance has been good from the larger companies. The ones that have not filed, the majority of them have asked for our assistance in filing and that is why they are late, so we expect to get those filings very soon.”
Roughly, 5,500 smaller businesses are expected to file VAT returns by April 28. Mr Halkitis said the government has arranged free seminars and released videos to assist companies with their filings.
“We are offering assistance to those companies to ensure we have a smooth roll out. The first filing period was encouraging in terms of the numbers and we want to keep it that way. So in the coming weeks we are going to be educating smaller business, with a gross of less than $5million, on how to file.”
Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he is “absolutely certain” value added tax (VAT) will be a “major success story for the people of The Bahamas.”
VAT is charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent on most goods and services.
The government has said it expects to collect around $300 from VAT in the first year of implementation.