Categorized | National News

Attorney Calls for Fair Taxation of Web Shops

Days before the much anticipated Gaming Bill is expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly Attorney Wayne Munroe who represents a number of major numbers bosses in the country urged law makers to ensure that the taxation of these businesses is fair, especially in comparison to that of foreign casino operators.

He urged lawmakers to think in the best interest of Bahamians.

“Quite frankly the concern of all Bahamians should be that if indeed the government takes the position that it’s going to regulate this and then it’s going to tax it, then we should be very careful to insist that no Bahamian business is taxed at a higher rate than a foreign business, there should be no justification for web shops having a higher tax rate licence fee than casinos just for a matter of principle that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“The web shops are Bahamian citizens, why would treat your citizens less favourably in your own country?”

He added that if you tax and charge higher fees to web shops, it will negatively affect the profitably of their businesses.

“Well it’s a business if you tax them twice as much, three times as much as a casino, of course in terms of profitability their pay-outs to their customers, the Bahamian public who are the consumers will be lower than the pay-out say in the same event that a casino can make to a foreign patron and that cannot be right, not in The Bahamas,” he said.

“I cannot imagine that any Bahamian politician can sensibly believe that’s something Bahamians people will find acceptable.”

Although the government has not confirmed that this will be the case, Mr. Munroe said this one of the things he suspects will happen and saw the need to send a warning to the government to do away with that idea.

Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed that Cabinet met on Friday to review the Gaming Bill and the Journal has learned that a meeting was held with numbers bosses on Saturday.

Mr. Munroe added that the law to regulate the industry is drafted, however, decisions would have to be made on the tax rates for the gaming industry.

“It is such a complex matter in terms of the rates because though we have put accountants in there we are not certain as to what money is made in these businesses and so it’s going to take a full external audit and so therefore we have to create a regime that transitions into that, so whatever we do now is subject to verification that this is the right thing to do,” he said.

“If I came and said, ‘I’m taxing five per cent,’ it might turn out to be 20 per cent, it might turn out to be 10 per cent but the point is it’s a very complex process that were superintending now that the laws have been totally designed now for this and were at the stage where now we’re fixing the rates – what the taxation that every single investigation that the gaming board does has to be paid for and this is a culture where they’re not use to paying anything.”

The underground web shop industry has gained a lot of media attention and stirred much controversy over the years.

The government now seeks to regulate the industry to meet its international obligations, obtain added revenue for the treasury and protect the financial reputation of the country.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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