HARBORVIEW—Given its institutional role, the Social Economic Council (SER) initiated a review of indirect taxation because this would be valuable for the social economic development of Sint Maarten. The SER concluded that the current indirect tax model, Turnover Tax, has shortcomings in compliance, extent of coverage and economic impact.
All alternative tax models regarding indirect taxation will require some form of registrations of transactions at the ports of entry: the harbor and the airport. Therefore, the SER advises government to register all trade transactions at the ports of entry by quantity, generic type, value and owner by CRIB- number. No CRIB-number, no imports and exports. Non-trade transactions for personal use by the general public, such as internet purchases, will be registered without CRIB-number. The registration of transactions should be simple and not unnecessarily burden economic activity and consumers. The registration at the ports of entry would not delay the logistical process of importing and exporting goods, just as similar requirements in other countries don’t do so. Moreover, the administration of shipping companies, air- and ocean freight, is already geared towards a registration of transactions, and the registration of transactions can be executed under existing legislation.
The data from this registration would facilitate both the level of compliance of existing taxation and the ability to judge the returns of investments to replace Turnover Tax with alternative and more effective indirect tax models. An effective alternative tax model for indirect taxation is the most important goal of the SER. The data from registration of transactions would also give generic information which goods are actually coming in and going out of our country. The registration of transactions also addresses to some extent the unlevel playing field that is caused by some businesses paying their fair share of Turnover Tax and others not. The latter is a longstanding complaint of the business community, especially regarding foreign businesses.
The full advice has been made public in National Gazette on May 26th, 2016. The advice can be downloaded from the SER website www.sersxm.org.