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Senators Debate the Act to amend the Tax Administration and Procedures Act

Senators on Wednesday morning debated the Act to amend the Tax Administration and Procedures Act. The amendment authorizes the Director General of Tax to publish the names of tax defaulters. As we’ve reported extensively, hundreds of million dollars is owed to the government in different taxes. However, about eighty percent of taxes owed is statute barred. The act also allows for government to go after those tax defaulters. Lead Opposition Senator Michael Peyrefitte needs better precision.

Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “When you look at the provisor to the section it seems to take away that consent requirement from the DPP or the Director General. It says “Provided that this subsection shall not prevent the arrest or the issue or execution of a warrant for the arrest or any person in respect of such an offence or the remand in custody or on bail of any person charged with such an offence notwithstanding that the necessary consent to the institution of proceedings for the offence has not been obtained.” well then what’s the point of the previous paragraph if the proviso takes away the entire power of consent ? It’s just a structural thing because if you look at this you’re saying you cannot institute any prosecution against a person without first having the consent of the DPP or the Director General however if you look at this the police can arrest you, charge you, take you to court, the Magistrate can remand you to prison or give you bail you’re already out there in the public sphere and then the DPP or the Director General can then say you know what we don’t consent to that person being arrested and charged in that way but then it already happened and for the most part, for better or worse, when people are arrested, taken to court, before the Magistrate wether they’re remanded or bail, public already find them guilty already. So I would like to see a piece of legislation where before you arrest a person, take a person to court, object to bail or agree to bail or whatever I would like to see a piece of legislation that says the Director General or the DPP must sign off on that or consent to that before the person is wrongly embarrassed and detained.”

Senator for the Private Sector Kevin Herrera supports government’s commitment to go after tax defaulters but says the amendment is missing key factors.

Kevin Herrera, Senator for Private Sector: “There is no mention of when a default is triggered. At what point is it considered a default ? Is it at the point of assessment and I might have a legitimate reason why I think that assessment is wrong. If you look at the Income Tax Act you can be looking at taxable income which means expenses are taken out before. I can have expenses in there that I think is legitimate where the tax department might disagree with me and that is just one example Madam President where I think you can have legitimate cause for disagreement with the Commissioner of Income Tax.”

Senator for Government Eamon Courtenay says the bill comes as part of the government’s commitment to recover outstanding taxes.

Eamon Courtenay, Senator of Government Business: “A proviso follows and in the words of Senator Peyrefitte it removes the need for the consent , it does not. The proviso says “Providing that this subsection shall not prevent the arrest or the issue or execution of a warrant for the arrest of any person in respect to such an offence or the remand in custody or on bail of any person charged with such an offense not withstanding that the necessary consent to the institution of the proceedings for the offense has not been obtained.’ It is a saving provision. It is saying if these things are done it doesn’t fail because the permission had not been obtained first. So Madam President the prosecution, which is what sub clause two is dealing with, prosecution must be authorized. What the next proviso is saying but if you arrest the person the arrest is not illegal because the permission has not yet been obtained. With respect to clause three the amendment to section sixty four Senator Bradley is entirely correct the law sets out a comprehensive provision for due process to be afforded to the tax payer before you reach the point where the director will say the amount of taxes due is $10,000 ; you have an entire process and notice is served on you, you can dispute it, after that dispute by way of a review if you still disagree you have  right to appeal. After you appeal you still have the right to go to court to challenge the decision and then a final figure is arrived at.”