GRA nets $8B increase in first quarter revenue

-Statia credits amnesty, improvement in collection

Godfrey Statia

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is reporting an $8 billion increase in revenue collection for the first quarter of 2018, which has been attributed to improvements in the collection of arrears.

GRA Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia told Sunday Stabroek that the current amnesty being offered by the agency along with improved tax collection has seen the GRA earn significantly more than in the same period last year.

“At the end of March, we were $8 billion above 2017 and $5.6 billion above budget,” he said, while adding that Value Added Tax (VAT) earnings on imports had also increased by $1.3 billion over the same period last year, while earnings from domestic VAT had increased by $250 million.

The amnesty, which is a 2018 budget measure, is on interest and penalties for Income, Corporate, Property, Capital Gains and Withholding taxes up to and including the Year of Assessment 2017 (Year of Income 2016).

According to the Monthly Economic Bulletin for April, 2017, government earned $36.1 billion in the first quarter of 2017, compared with $30.3 billion over the same period in 2016.

The bulletin explained that growth in the first quarter of 2017 was mainly attributed to increased collections from excise tax, VAT, and taxes on international trade, which grew by $2.4 billion or 48.7 percent, $1 billion or 12.1 percent, and $0.6 billion or 20.1 percent, respectively.

Other contributing factors for these improvements included arrears collections, increased compliance, and growth in the value of imports.

VAT collections reached $9.4 billion in the first quarter of 2017, compared with $8.4 billion collected during the same period in 2016. This, the bulletin explained, was mainly due to an increase in the value of imports specifically relating to companies in the wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing sectors, as well as due to a decrease in the value of VAT refund payments.

Excise tax collections totalled $7.3 billion in the first quarter of 2017, compared with $4.9 billion collected in the first quarter of 2016. Much of the expansion in excise revenues was as a result of increased value of fuel imported due to higher oil prices.

According to Statia, a similar situation is occurring in 2018, with the GRA also “zeroing in” on certain taxpayers who owe GRA billions. One such industry is the gold mining industry.

“The gold industry has billions outstanding in taxes,” he stressed. Asked if these outstanding taxes were owed by large or medium- and small-scale miners, Statia explained that it was the large-scale miners who represented a significant percentage of outstanding taxes. “Some of the top declarers or, as the case may be, top non-declarers,” he joked.

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