Professionals en masse failing to pay taxes

Accountants, lawyers and doctors are among the list of professionals most guilty of skirting the law by failing to pay their taxes.

Inland Revenue Department’s Acting Commissioner Ralph Warner speaking on Observer Radio’s Big Issues programme Sunday said that only six out of the 66 private practice doctors have been compliant as of December 2010.

“With the reorganisation of the Inland Revenue Department, what we did was automate the whole exercise so that we can pull out areas that we’d like to zoom in on. One of those areas we pulled out was the doctors, accountants and lawyers,” Warner said.

“Staggering to know there are about 167 doctors in Antigua & Barbuda, 66 of which are in private practice and out of that 66 only 6 is compliant. Likewise there are 23 accountants and only 7 of these are compliant,” Warner added.

The acting commissioner said he was particularly shocked by the failure of accountants to pay their taxes since it is part of their job.

“These are the accountants that are handling all the corporations in Antigua & Barbuda. There they are making this service to clients and they themselves are not compliant with the law,” Warner said.

He said the Inland Revenue Department is still working on the database for lawyers but the numbers remain high.

Meanwhile, Everett Christian, manager of the Revenue Reform Project in the Finance Ministry, said even though there’s been some improvement in the ABST, compliance rate still remains too low.

“The initial compliance rate is still below expectation in respect of the number of persons who are actually filing by the due date. It is still low, but we have found with intervention from the staff in the late/non filers unit and arrears collection and enforcement units which are two new units, that once they intervene we have seen an increase in the compliance rate,” Christian said.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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