Edward Gift, Comptroller of Inland Revenue Department, is preparing for keeping customer safety in mind while preparing to enable taxpayers to file their taxes on a timely basis.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Plans are being developed to confront major challenges as St. Kitts and Nevis begin the process of reopening. According to Edward Gift, Comptroller of Inland Revenue Department (IRD), the Ministry of Finance and IRD are focused on several risks to its operations, the economy and its customers.

IRD will tailor the management of its front operations during peak times in light of the ongoing social distancing measures.

“The department places the safety of its customers and staffs as its top priority, while social distancing measures are [developed] to protect all of us,’” said Mr. Gift. “Customers to the department are reminded that they may experience delays when completing face-to-face transactions at peak periods. They are encouraged to utilize our online services and avoid the lines.”

Another important measure deals directly with taxpayers’ behaviour in terms of filing and payments.

“The department is closely monitoring taxpayer filing and payments behaviour to identify emerging trends and compliance risk,” said Gift. “In the context of this recovery, many businesses have been negatively impacted while others have benefited. The department will continue to monitor taxpayer patterns to ensure that some taxpayers are not abusing stimulus measures and using the crisis to avoid payment of taxes.

Gift noted the department has been examining trends and findings revealed that for the period 2017-2019, the average compliance rate for VAT filings was around 96 percent. The VAT compliance rate for July, 2020 fell to 51 percent.

“The department has been actively engaged in the process of communicating the government’s commitment to helping taxpayers meet their obligations as they restore their businesses,” explained Gift. “We want to remind business owners of the importance of filing during this period.

“Although your business may have recorded a reduction in sales, you are still required to file under the tax laws and avoid the additional cost of late penalties. Businesses that may have temporarily closed for some reason are asked again to avoid the additional cost of late filing by simply applying to the IRD for the inactive period.”

Gift reiterated that the department would be examining returns for taxpayers to ensure that persons are not taking advantage of the stimulus package measures.