EDITORIAL: GST – A CERTAIN UNCERTAINTY

The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

The Certainty – Effective 1st July 2022 the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be applicable in Anguilla. The tax approved by the votes of non-elected members of the House of Assembly will become operational, despite the protests and lobbying of the Concerned Citizens Group. By all accounts, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is taking all steps necessary to realise the implementation date of 1st July, 2022. It appears that the question whether GST will be implemented, effective 1st July, 2022, has been answered with a resounding yes.

While any question as to the implementation date of GST has been removed, many questions still surround the appropriateness and practicality of implementing GST at this time.

• How will it operate?

• What are the implications for the populace?

• Will GST result in an unintended increase in certain goods?

• Are persons likely to become unknowingly criminally liable for innocent omissions in respect of the GST legislation?

• Will GST be equitably applied – or will some persons escape the application as seems to be the case with existing taxes?

• Will the IRD have the manpower to adequately ensure the equitable implementation of the GST legislation?

• Will the cost of the manpower required to effectively implement GST exceeds the revenue expected to be raised by the implementation of GST?

The above are just some of the uncertainties that continue to occupy the minds of Anguillians and residents as they await the implementation of GST. Sadly, there seems to be very little faith placed in any answers being provided by elected officials or by IRD officials. It does not help that two ministers in the Anguilla Progressive Movement administration have openly voiced their dissent to the implementation of GST, at this time, and voted accordingly in the House of Assembly. Some concern has also been expressed as to whether the IRD officials have a proper grasp of GST, and how it will operate on a day-to-day basis.

It is no secret that Anguillians are tax averse. It is, therefore, no surprise that GST is not being warmly embraced. It certainly does not help that there are so many uncertainties surrounding GST that allow persons to justify their unwillingness to support this tax.

Will the recently heightened communication on the part of the IRD allay the concerns of the many persons who will be affected by GST? This appears unlikely. Maybe the production of a pamphlet titled ‘GST for Dummies’, which attempts to remove the many uncertainties surrounding GST, will prove very helpful at this time. There are many persons who genuinely do not understand how GST is supposed to work – and would welcome clarity.

Whether we support or do not support the implementation of GST, at this time, what is apparent is that the only certainty is that the implementation date is 1st July 2022. In the eyes of most stakeholders everything else pertaining to GST is in the realm of uncertainty. GST is currently a certain uncertainty.