The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has reported a 14 per cent increase in its revenue collection for 2017 – an estimated $20B more than what it had garnered at the end of 2016.
The tax revenue body raked in some $170B and according to Commissioner General Godfrey Statia, the collection of new taxes and going after tax defaulters have significantly contributed to this success.
The major revenue areas were collected from arrears which amounted to some $4B alone.
“We have been targetting persons who owe us and have not been paying, so arrears collection has increased. It is a sizeable amount,” Statia told the media at the entity’s first press briefing earlier today.
According to the Commissioner, the collection of some taxes that were not previously collected also contributed to the increases. He spoke to the withholding tax for non-residence that ought to be taken out. That tax he said brought in some $3B.
Meanwhile, while there have been successes in this regard in 2017, there remain instances of tax defaulters continuing to evade the system.
According to a release from the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Commissioner posited that if the top 10,000 taxpayers pay their correct tax, that base would be widened to reduce taxes for the rest of the populace. He explained that 60 per cent of the revenues are based on just 300 taxpayers. Those include corporate tax and a few individual taxpayers.
“And those that are individual taxpayers, are persons who just because of the rate differential have elected to remove themselves from the corporate person into an individual person,” Statia said.
He reminded that corporate taxation with commercial entities are 40 per cent and 45 per cent are for telephone companies.
“As long as we get those persons doing what they supposed to be doing, I am sure taxes will be improved,” he said.
The Commissioner also said most of the plans for 2017 are up and running. These include the large taxpayers’ unit.
Back in 2016, some six months after taking up the post, the Commissioner-General said the entity would be concentrating its efforts on persons who have not been paying their taxes.
“We all know that if everybody pays their fair share of taxation, once you widen the tax base, tax rates will reduce” the Commissioner had said then.
According to him, many persons had been “falling through the cracks” because of the issues with the entity’s Information Technology Programme.
Today, he said the GRA has been working steadily at addressing that issue.