Commissioner Ralph Warner told OBSERVER , “That will have to happen because the initiative has been running thus far for close to six months, so ample time has been given to those taxpayers who are in arrears with the department. Obviously, there has to be a cut-off point where we have to go after those funds that are outstanding.”
The initiative was an election campaign promise of the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government and seeks to reduce the tax debt for registrants owing ABST.
Warner said more details will be made available to the public when the ABLP delivers its first budget presentation soon.
The programme encourages delinquent account holders to pay the ABST principle and waivers penalties and interest accumulated. It should have ended August month end but extended to yearend.
But, Warner said, the response from businesses and individuals has been poorer than expected.
Now, the IRD commissioner said the Fresh Start Initiative may be extended again in 2015.
“We have a few more days left, but the possibility does exist that we may be extending. The feedback we are getting is that certain persons were still not in the financial position to take advantage of initiative. Some were saying they are fighting with the upcoming winter tourism season – they foresee that they will be in a better position to take advantage of the initiative but, thus far, it has been relatively slow,” Warner said in an interview.
The IRD commissioner said the initial numbers indicate that close to 100 taxpayers would have made attempts to regularise their accounts. He said the revenue generated to date amounted to “hundreds of thousands of dollars, bordering just over a couple million dollars.”
Meanwhile, Warner said initial reports suggest the two-day ABST tax break over Christmas was successful.
“It’s too early to say; the feedback I’ve been getting from a cross section of the businesses is that is seems to be very successful in moving those stacks that were sitting on the shelves for a considerable period of time,” the IRD commissioner said.