One month after Guyana Stores Limited (GSL) lost its legal battle against the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), regarding the payment of Corporation Tax, it is still to make any payments but worse than that, the company will not benefit from the ongoing tax amnesty for delinquent taxpayers.
This was made clear on Monday by GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia during a press conference. Statia reminded that in addition to being required to pay $3.8 billion to the GRA, the company also has a legal obligation to pay all its outstanding tax returns over eight years.
“There will be no amnesty for this particular taxpayer… I keep saying all the time, you come to equity, you have to come with clean hands and if you have pushed us around all these years, you cannot expect that we are going to give you the olive branch,” the GRA boss asserted.
Statia explained that the company was first given the chance to submit all his outstanding tax returns, and also provide the GRA with a settlement proposal as to how they want to go about payments. While it is not in the interest of the GRA to close any business, he said GSL has a responsibility to pay up.
While the company is required to pay $3.8 billion in taxes, Statia said “a sizeable amount of that will be penalty and interest and unless he tells us how he is prepared to liquidate the outstanding principle taxes, because it is more than that anyhow. When you add the outstanding tax return he has not been filing and paying over the years, so it might be a lot more than that.”
The least payment the GRA is prepared to accept initially is just over $300 million in the initial phase. While the media questioned the GRA to state what the entire principle is, the Commissioner General said because of rules of confidentiality, he said he would not be able to divulge that information.
The company had requested 30 days to file those returns which have expired. The company has since begged for another extension, which was granted by the GRA allowing for a final deadline on Monday, April 30, 2018, which also marks the deadline for the filing of all tax returns across the country.
During early March, GSL lost its appeal in a matter involving the payment of Corporation Tax to GRA, which it had taken before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to determine whether a two per cent minimum Corporation Tax was unconstitutional and amounted to the taking away of private property.
The CCJ dismissed the GSL appeal and awarded cost to the GRA as respondents. The matter arose in 2012 when the GSL refused to pay more than $3 billion in Corporation Tax after a notice of demand was sent to the company. The GSL had moved to the local courts, but both the High Court and the Court of Appeal had ruled against GSL, and ordered that it pay the $3,807,346,397 in Corporation Taxes.
The GSL then moved to the CCJ. However, the CCJ ruled that the two per cent Corporation Tax was not a forced loan, but the tax was constitutional.
Guyana Stores Limited is owned primarily by Tony Yassin and Glenn Lall, publisher of the Kaieteur News.
Meanwhile, Guyana Stores Limited still owes the Government hundreds of millions of dollars for the purchase of the building on Water Street, Georgetown.
The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited currently has several court actions against GSL for millions in outstanding monies owed to the Government.