Will the dead be subject to VAT? Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News
November 1, 2006

Related Links: Articles on VAT
Letters Menu Archival Menu

I do not know whether Arvin Gandhi was born in the rice flour era or whether he is a product of the dawn of a new era. However, this person who asked whether the Peeper knew of any unscrupulous landlords needs a reality check because anyone ordinarily familiar with this country would have little difficulty in locating an unscrupulous landlord, and anyone who lived through the seventies and eighties in this country would know about the highly exploitative practices of some landlords in this country.

I can write volumes about unscrupulous landlords. Guyana took the concept of sub-letting to new heights. I can bring tears to the eyes of readers when I relate the stories of Guyanese who would traverse from street to street looking for places to rent. I can tell about the stories of humiliation and exploitation. So please, while not every landlord can be painted with the same brush, Guyana has not been without those that milked their tenants dry.

This is why the government's housing drive is so welcome. People now can own their own homes rather than having to rent. Today in fact, landlords are begging people to rent from them; so much has the national housing stock increased.

Of course, today, there are still many landlords who are still not part of the tax net, even though as I explained, the tax laws allows them to write off some of their expenses from their income before arriving at their taxable income, in contrast to the average worker who pays tax on his income without any deductions for living expenses.

One of the reasons why I support Value Added Tax (VAT) is simply that it would bring many a landlord under the tax net and even though he would be treated more favorably than the average worker in terms of taxes, VAT is at least going to ensure that more landlords are eventually registered for taxation purposes.

Presently only those persons with a turnover in excess of ten million dollars will be required to register for VAT, this is only a temporary arrangement to allow the Guyana Revenue Authority to facilitate the introduction of VAT.

By limiting the application of VAT initially to a small number of businesses, the Guyana Revenue Authority is hoping for a smooth phasing-in of this tax. But make no mistake, eventually every single business and service in this country will become subject to Value Added Taxation.

So I guess we can say that those who are of the opinion that VAT is intended only for companies with an annual turnover in excess of ten million dollars are the ones that are missing the point.

For VAT to serve its intended purpose, it will be necessary within three years for it to cover the entire spectrum of taxable activities.

In the arrangement that is due to be put in place for January 2007, residential rentals will be exempted from the VAT. This however does not mean that eventually all landlords in the country will escape registration for VAT; for as we know, a good or service can be zero-rated under the VAT schedule, but still requires the provider of that service or anyone dealing with that good to be registered.

It is therefore expected that within the next three years, regardless of the VAT on residential rents, all landlords will be required to be registered. This will mean that all landlords will eventually have to be registered for tax purposes and therefore they will come under the tax net.

One person who will not be under any tax net was that bandit whose body was fished out of the main drainage canal in Canal #2. The man at the time had one of the army's missing AK-47s strapped to his body, and ballistics tests linked the weapon to that used in the assassination of Minster of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh.

It also reveals that the missing weapons are in criminal hands and therefore instead of the army limiting itself to finding the weapons - a search that can drag out infinitely - they would be better advised to begin searching for the criminal elements of the gang or gangs believed to be existing out there.

The army stands a better chance of finding these weapons by seeking to arrest the criminals rather than simply waiting on human intelligence to guide them to the weapons.

The criminals that have these weapons are now being activated and evident since the August bank robbery. What amazes me about these criminals is how they have failed to recognize the lessons of the past.

That record indicates that members of heavily-armed gangs do not live to old age. In fact, most of them that terrorized this country during the crime wave of 2001 to 2003 did not last very long.

Within six months, most of those who believed that they were invincible were either dead of imprisoned. The longest survivor, Troy Dick, it is believed, fled the jurisdiction to avoid being arrested and it was believed that when he returned from exile, he once again joined up with a criminal gang but was killed following a robbery on Regent Street .

I therefore want to urge all of those young men who are thinking that a life of crime is glamorous to think again. I want to remind all of those who believe that having an AK-47 is a license to power, to reflect again on some of those so-called “bad men” who are now lying six feet under, their guts being eaten away by worms. Where is the invincibility? Where is the immortality?

A life of crime is a wasted life. It is better to endure the deprivations of poverty than to take to a life of crime which brings but a few weeks of glory and an everlasting pass to hell.

I hope that the person found dead in the trench in Canal #2 is identified before January 2007, because who knows, the taxman may want to charge VAT on the funeral expenses.