$5M tax credits for re-migrants – Amended Customs Bill will tighten loopholes in re-migrant scheme
─ overseas students can also access re-migrant scheme
─ amended bill will allow for full payment of owed income tax returns
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 3, 2019
One of the loopholes in the re-migrant scheme is now tightened with the amendment of the Customs Bill. The amendment of the bill was moved by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan today in the 112th Sitting of the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament.
Minister Jordan highlighted that the Amendment proposes a tax credit of $5M to be given to the re-migrants. He said this allows the re-migrant to bring as many vehicles as possible but once it exceeds the credit amount, they will have to pay the difference in duties.
“You do not have to worry anymore about the vehicles being in your possession for six months, you can come to Guyana and you can buy your vehicle within six months of arriving in Guyana. This allows us to get around all the chicanery of trying to show that you had it in your possession for six months,” the minister explained.
The scheme, he said, has not worked well, especially as it relates to the question of who exactly is a re-migrant and if those individuals comply with the criteria of a re-migrants. Minister Jordan added that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has its limitations and find it hard to ensure that every re-migrant is complying with the laws.
In addition, the Finance Minister underscored that many re-migrants use the scheme to bring home vehicles and televisions among other things to be sold with those individuals spending less than two weeks in the country. However, the bill seeks only to deal with vehicles.
Upon investigations, the minister said that it was found that some persons failed to fulfil many of the criteria to be regarded as a re-migrant.
“What we are proposing now is not to end the re-migrant scheme. It is to tighten it and at the same time to free the GRA of the burden of having to chase around people to find out whether they are still in the country and to show that they have not disposed of the property for which they have been given duty concessions, so, at this initial stage, the intent is to go after the cars.”
Students will also benefit from the amendment, Minister Jordan pointed out. He noted that they too can qualify as re-migrants if they can show that they had attended continuously, for at least three years, an educational institution abroad. Such persons will be given all rights and can have access to all rights including purchasing of vehicles when they return home.
The minister said that despite the amendment to the bill, the scheme will continue as it is the government’s aim to attract persons from abroad, especially as oil and gas production nears.
Another amendment to the bill will see the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) paying citizens all income tax refunds owed. The monies due, however, will not come from budgeted sums, but from current revenue collected. The minister noted that “hopefully this will clear up a backlog of refunds where people keep asking GRA for their monies and they cannot get it”.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite.
Image: Keno George.