The government appointed Tax Reform Committee has begun its work of looking for ways to reform the existing system with the aim of reducing the burden placed vulnerable citizens.
But even as the four man committee, which was appointed in September, aims to present its final report before the close of 2015, one member believes that a smaller government would have been more helpful to reducing taxes.
“I personally think the government could have been smaller, I believe more could have been done,” Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram told News Source while noting that options are still available for the reduction of taxes.
“If we have oversized governments, inefficient government, wasteful expenditure you either finance that by oversized taxes or borrowing,” Ram explained.
He said any tax system of a country will have to take account of the economic and political environment that exists.
“In the final analysis tax reform is a political decision. We as technocrats will make our technical recommendations and then it will be up to the political directorate,” he added.
Mr. Ram could not say what specific recommendations will be made in relation to Value Added Tax (VAT) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE). “We certainly looked at how one can reduce income tax and what would be the best way to do it, I am optimistic, we are not ruling out anything at this stage.”
He said the committee will ensure it makes recommendations that are in keeping with progressive models of taxation. Among the Committee’s tasks is to update and evaluate recommendations presented in recent reviews of the Guyana tax system and identify and evaluate options for reform of the existing system with an aim to reduce the tax burden placed on the most vulnerable and improving competitiveness of business while enhancing overall revenue collection.
The Committee is currently meeting with persons who had responded to the public invitation for submission of papers with respect to issues set out in the terms of reference.
In identifying new sources of taxes, Mr. Ram believes there is the need for “hard to tax groups of workers”, such as minibus and taxi drivers to start paying taxes.
He also stressed the need for self-employed persons to pay their taxes. “A number of persons are not paying their fair share of tax and if you look at the self-employed… it is extremely unacceptable what the self-employed contribute in terms of taxes,” he added