The Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday that government entities are the most non-compliant when it comes to filing income tax returns, but admitted that only private agencies have been fined for being delinquent.
During Monday’s hearing, the issue of a reported 84 instances where returns submitted by employers were not reconciled and instances where the amounts stated by the entities were greater than the figures determined during assessment and vice versa arose.
The Auditor General’s (AG) 2015 report stated, “An examination of the Forms II register for the year 2015 revealed that of the 906 returns submitted by employers, 84 instances were observed where the returns were not reconciled by the Department. In addition, 98 instances were observed where amounts on Forms II totaling $360.406 million were greater than the assessed amounts on the Forms V…six instances were noted where the amounts on the Forms V were greater than that reflected on the Forms II.”
The update given by GRA stated that reconciled cases are now down to 16, while the 98 instances of amounts submitted being greater than assessed amounts having been reduced to 16 and the reverse, from six to one.
GRA Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia pointed out that in many cases, it was the fault of government institutions that these documents remained unbalanced. “I would have liked that when this analysis of Form IIs were being made that we should have broken it down between the private sector and the public sector.
There are reasons for that. Many of the Form IIs that remain unbalanced would be a result of government institutions. Government believes that they should be held at a different standard and they have not been submitting the Form IIs on a timely basis and their payments on a timely basis,” Statia explained.
In the AG’s report, it is explained that a Form II is to be submitted each year for the previous year on the total tax deductions made by each employer.
According to Statia, the reason for this is to ensure that the taxes paid by the employee were remitted to the GRA and that the taxes deducted from employees agree with GRA’s policy. He further noted that without this being done, taxpayers would be unable to receive refunds.
“I’m sure that most of those that have not been balanced related to government entities.
We have since sent out letters to all government entities requesting that they put their house in order.
The private entities mostly do but the government takes its time…,” he said.
Asked by committee member Juan Edghill whether entities can be sanctioned if they fail to submit their Form IIs for reconciliation, Statia responded, “Yes, of course there is a sanction, but we have fined the private agencies but we have not fined the public agencies, and the rationale might be ‘massa cow, massa bull….’”
“Well I don’t know that to be true sir, you are not asked to look after massa’s cow neither massa’s bull, you are tasked to administer the taxation regime of the nation,” Edghill replied, before going on to request a list of the agencies that have been non-compliant.
Statia was given two weeks to supply the data.