The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is to go after tax evaders in the coming year, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Keith Mitchell.
In wrapping up the 2017 budget debate in the Lower House of Representatives, Dr. Mitchell warned that every taxpayer in the country should meet his/her commitment in paying whatever tax is due to the State.
He spoke of agreeing with the calls frequently made by the leadership of the Trades Union Council to encourage their members to make their contributions.
However, he pointed out that there are certain people in the country who are refusing to pay their taxes, and “we seem not to have the guts to be able to make sure everyone pays their fair share.”
“So the little public servant or policeman, or nurses, or the guys working in the firms or the hotel, we know what they (are) making so we pickpocket them. But those of us working independently and making millions, we’re not paying a cent, and I agree with the Trades Union Movement. But the worse thing is when you have people in government, Ministers of Government refusing to pay tax,” he said.
Without calling names, Dr. Mitchell accused members of the 2008-13 Tillman Thomas-led government of not paying taxes.
“They’re some famous ones, they have businesses all over the country, but they wouldn’t pay a cent, and they did not even file a cent to the Inland Revenue – deal with that. If any NNP (New National Party) Minister or somebody does that, deal with him or her. We cannot lead a country, get people to pay taxes.
The poor man must pay, and those of us in authority refuse to pay because we’re too big to pay. I didn’t call name, but Grenada (is) very small,” he said.
Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Mitchell was pointing an accusing finger at a small businessman who was a minister in the former government and operated a fleet of gas stations across the island.
There are unconfirmed reports that monies owed to him by the State were deducted on the basis of taxes owed to the State.
Within weeks of Dr. Mitchell being re-elected to office in the 2013 general election, Member of Parliament for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement pointed an accusing finger at some Parliamentarians who were sitting in the House and owing large sums of monies to the Treasury.
Without calling names, Clement was believed to be pointing fingers at the then Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kenny Lalsingh (Minister of State for Implementation in the Office of the Prime Minister) who operated a number of wholesale and retail businesses.
IRD reportedly engaged Lalsingh and an agreement was reached for his companies to pay just over EC$200, 000.00 in taxes owed on a payment plan that was reportedly worked out.
Labour Senator, Raymond Roberts also joined the call for people to pay their taxes to the State.
Speaking in the Upper House of Parliament in the Budget debate, Sen. Roberts, said the labour movement would like to see government pursue in a more aggressive manner those people who are delinquent in paying their taxes.
He said the salary workers have become easy targets by the taxman while too many professionals in Grenada are not paying their fair share.
However, he acknowledged that labour having been informed by the Ministry of Finance that in the last year the major professionals have been coming forward with their taxes.
“…We want to certainly call on the government to pursue it with the legal profession, the medical profession, and Consultants… they must pay their fair share (of taxes), they are making money, and we know there are legislation that the government can go into the bank and see,” he said.
There are unconfirmed reports that millions of dollars are owed in taxes to the state by some of the major hotels on the island.