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Audit firm weighs in on 2018 budget

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

As government shifts focus in order to restart T&T's economy and overcome the dependence on oil and gas revenues, KPMG T&T is concerned that some of the fiscal measures announced in last week's budget could negatively impact tax-payers.

According to Managing Partner Dushyant Sookram this was the third consecutive fiscal package presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert which had seen him having to make, "Difficult choices in the midst of less than favourable oil and gas prices."

In their post-budget commentary, KPMG T&T outlined their concerns focusing on areas such as alternative fuel vehicles, the fuel subsidy, the oil and gas fiscal regime, and corporation tax.

The company also assessed the impact of the proposed fiscal measures in budget 2018 on hotel and guest rooms, private hospitals, gaming, exports, export allowances, local food production and stimulating private construction in the housing sector.

Referring to the area of gaming in which duties increased from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, while a ten per cent tax was imposed on all cash winnings paid out by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), Sookram said, "This is not surprising given that the Gaming industry has been on the government's radar for some time."

Zeroing in on the affected which would include casino owners/workers; bar owners and NLCB winners, Sookram said, "Given the low compliance rate by Gaming companies, its is only fair this sector pay its dues."

IAccording to Imbert, compliance in this area was less than ten per cent regarding the remittance of taxes.

Sookram said while enforcement was key to ensuring taxes were collected, "A protocol would have to implemented to collect tax on winnings by the NLCB including the date of remittance to revenue. This could be a nuisance for small winnings."

Sookram also endorsed Imbert's call for all to adjust and "Cut our cloth to suit our coat," as he added that difficult economic times required prudence and austere measures.

The Managing Partner said taking into account the challenging future ahead, the 2017/2018 budget had sought to update old levies and in a "delicate" way continue to increase taxes.

"Maybe this is what is needed to curb spending and alter changes in habits given the new paradigm in which we must exist and to put the economy on a sustainable path," he said.


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