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Dominica’s gov’t warns of “Draconian” legislation to recover millions in unpaid taxes

The government of the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica is warning that it is prepared to table “draconian” legislation, in a bid to recover more than EC$250 million in outstanding taxes.

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who issued the stern warning pointed out that as of the end of December, last year, taxes, amounting to more than EC$257 million were outstanding and urged defaulters to begin speaking with the Inland Revenue by Ash Wednesday, February 26. Skerrit, who is also Finance Minister, cited corporation taxes, which has the greatest outstanding amount totalling EC$77.1 million.

This was followed by personal income tax with EC$66.2 million outstanding; pay-as-you-earn taxes amounted to EC$1.1 million outstanding; professional licence fees with EC$2.1 million unpaid and value added tax (VAT) estimated at EC$73.9 million outstanding. Skerrit told a news conference on the weekend, “When you add all of the outstanding taxes owed to the state, I am talking about, as of the end of December, you talking about EC$257.9 million.”

A view of the capital of Dominica, Roseau. (Photo: Global Partnership for Education)

He said that among the measures his administration is contemplating to recover the outstanding fees, include legislation. He urged those owing the government to go to the Inland Revenue, as quickly as possible, and engage them in discussions and Customs Department and engage them in discussions on that which you owe to the state.

Skerrit warned, “failing which, I will be left with no choice but to go to the Parliament and to pass the appropriate legislation, to give the state far-reaching powers to collect that which you owe to the state.” He declared that the legislation would be draconian in nature and urged Dominicans to stop believing that only the government must be responsible and accountable and transparent in its operations.

He argued that funds are needed, given the destruction caused to the island, by the passage of Hurricane Maria, three years ago, and the fact that Dominica has been seeking assistance from friendly governments to meet its obligations.