St Maaren tax system is unjust

Dear Editor, Through this means I would like to voice my irritation about the following situation. For some time now, the Receiver’s Office has been literally attacking existing (local) small businesses on St. Maarten. Businesses try to navigate the cumbersome tax system that exists on the island only to have to hire an outside accountant in order to be up to date with all tax submissions. Payments are made, stamped receipts are given and then six months later, to everyone’s surprise, an assessment is sent saying that no taxes were filed in that particular month. A penalty is then levied and it is up to the small business to appeal this decision.

Many small businesses don’t even receive the assessment letter until months after it has been sent due to mix ups with addresses. Then some others don’t understand this process and choose to ignore the assessment. Others ignore the assessment because they are truly weary of receiving these adjustments and have to constantly send appeal letters which takes away time from their daily operations. Some businesses have to pay their accountants extra to file to appeal the assessment for the payment that the same accountant already took care of so they end up paying twice for the filing of one month’s tax payment for one form of tax. Hopefully, someone can understand how, besides the administrative frustration, this is a costly monthly task for a small business.

As a consequence, the tax system is unjustly robbing people of time and money. This has to stop!! Stop harassing businesses because your administration is faulty! Instead, focus on all those businesses that are operating outside the tax system in plain sight. One tip on how to tackle these businesses: Since employees love to read newspapers on the job, assign one person to scan the papers and write down the name and, where possible, the address and contact number of every business advertised or mentioned in the papers. Then at the end of the day, this list can be checked in the system to see if they are registered. If they are not, then start sending Them your annoying assessment letters.

For those of you who are ignoring these assessments, I urge you to get an accountant to assist you as this just does not go away, even if you know that you are right, you will still have to have this clarified officially or it will have consequences for your business.

If anyone reading this is also a victim of these burdensome assessments, I encourage you too to write a letter about this to the Receiver’s Office and submit it when you go with your next month’s filing. Hopefully, if all of us take a stand, this unjust process will stop.

An annoyed taxpayer

Name withheld upon request. TDH

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