The assertion by Newsroom in its article “Attorney General, others to pay `no tax whatsoever’ under amendment to the AML/CFT law” dated July 27th 2018, that the members of the Committee “will be exempt, under section 7G of the Bill, from taxations” is erroneous and misleading. Nevertheless, the Hon. Attorney General welcomes the opportunity to offer further clarity on clause 7G of the Amendment Bill.
Clause 7G of Bill No. 10 of 2018 states-
“7G (1) The Committee, its assets, property, income and its operations and transactions authorised by this Act, shall be exempt from all taxation including customs duty, consumption tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, property tax and purchase tax, and the Commit-tee shall be exempt from payment of any tax or duty whatsoever.
(2) No taxation of any kind shall be levied on any obligations or security issued by the Committee.”
Firstly, as detailed in the above provision it is clear and unambiguous that the Committee itself is the entity that the law seeks to exempt from any tax liability and not the Attorney General and members of the Committee. Nowhere in the provision is it mentioned that members of the Committee will be exempt from any taxes. Taxation laws demand that the law must clearly state who will be taxed and who will not be taxed. In the case of clause 7G it is specific that only the Committee is exempt. It is important to note that the Committee is a statutory body akin to a Board, an Agency or an Authority.
Secondly, prior to the establishment of the Committee, the AML/CFT Act contained an identical provision relating to the Authority (which the Committee replaces) namely 9G. This provision like 7G stated that the Authority was exempt from taxes. These provisions are standard provisions because if the Committee is chargeable to tax then it would amount to the Government taxing itself. A search of other legislation would reveal a similar provision with respect to other statutory bodies for example, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission Act, Cap. 66:02 (section 30), Revenue Authority Act, Cap. 79:04 (section 30), National Sports Commission Act, Cap 39:14 (section 21) and Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act (No 4 of 2013) (section 25).
Thirdly, what is exempted is very specific. It is only things belonging or related to the Committee that are exempted from taxes. The provision clearly states that “assets, property, income and its operations and transactions authorised by this Act”. Moreover, any transactions must be authorised by the Act before it can attract the exemption. The list stated above excludes salaries of members of the Committee or anything belonging or related to members of the Committee. In fact, no member of the Committee will be receiving a salary as only staff of the Committee may be paid a salary. This is because all members of the Committee are ex officio members and therefore will not be in receipt of a salary.
Basil Williams SC
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs