Many sugar workers have been overpaying income tax

Dear Editor,

Please permit me space to highlight one of the many grave concerns that sugar workers are faced with in this country. A look at the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax calculated by the Payroll staff at the La Bonne Intention (L.B.I) sugar estate and other estates has shown that many sugar workers have been overpaying income tax for many weeks, many months and many years. Editor, many workers are uneducated about the income tax calculation even the so called educated clerks and supervisors that are calculating and deducting these taxes. Many times workers from L.B.I sugar estate are frustrated when they work 3 days for $8,000 or less and they have to pay $2,000 and odd dollars in PAYE even though they haven’t reach the weekly $9,231 threshold. There are many times when workers query their wages with the staff at L.B.I estate payment section just to get the royal run around and many versions of their calculations that conclude with the same results. What I am begging and pleading for is for the relevant persons of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) to look into the overpayment of taxes that sugar workers are burdened with. I have been a labourer at the LBI sugar estate for 35 years and recently I paid a Tax Consultant to prepare my Income Tax Returns for the Year of Income 2010 which I noticed from January 2010 to December 2010 I earned $398,973.42 and paid $36,933.11 in income tax.

A calculation I nor my consultant understands, because I have not reached the GRA’s individual income tax threshold of $420,000. Being curious I collected the last seven years tax returns from my employer (GuySuCo) at the LBI sugar estate so that I can recalculate my taxes, it was my biggest discovery that I found I have been overpaying income taxes at a total of $138,973.61 over the seven years. Trying to recover such overpayment, since it is my money, I am sickly and I depend on it, I enquired from the GRA Objection and Appeals Division about the process of refunding my money and to my amazement I heard that the GRA do not refund these overpayment of taxes because they would keep your money to “offset” it to the next year should you owe them. How can GRA keep monies overpaid for the last seven years to “offset” the taxes owed in the next year? I am appealing to the sugar workers from all the sugar estates and everyone else to file their Tax Returns and get someone competent enough to fill the form out correctly. Sugar workers are the backbone of this country. I do hope those who read this letter would bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities of GuySuCo, the GRA and the unions to assist people who overpaid taxes, to reimburse them or find some way for workers to get back their money.

Yours faithfully,
(Name and address supplied)

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