Do pensioners have an entitlement or does the GRA have discretion?

Dear Editor,

From my understanding of a press statement made by the Minister of Finance which was seen by me for the first time in 2017, old age pensioners countrywide were to benefit from a tax exemption on their savings accounts. The relief was considered to be helpful, because savings, as we all know, no matter how infinitesimal, are very important when an exigency arises.

In 2017 all the relevant particulars were given at the Anna Regina Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) office for withholding tax, which expires at the end of each year, and the exemption was granted to me.

But for this year a similar request was rejected without any given reason being given, even though it was done in the same way as the previous application. The only difference was that a different employee gave me to understand that the exemption was at the discretion of the GRA,  but her explanation did not find favour with me.

The disparity is very confusing and there is something definitely wrong, because in my humble opinion discretion is not applicable and is totally irrelevant to the issue. From my point of view, once the withholding tax becomes subject to discretion it will obviously create an opening for corruption as it would be possible for anyone to pay and get one.

The Minister’s statement to me was very clear on the entitlement to tax relief for pensioners, and it must be so confined within the ambit of the law. Now that the GRA has rejected my request, some form of clarity becomes necessary as a matter of public interest.

Yours faithfully,

Baliram Persaud

Editor’s note

We are sending a copy of this letter to the GRA for any comment they might wish to make.

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