By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WHILE the government will forge ahead with its new five percent stamp duty on web shop deposits, it does not mean this tax will forever remain at this rate, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar said yesterday.
It comes as FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers warned the new tax will discourage many customers from gambling and could lead to a loss of one third of the industry.
However, it seems there is come confusion as to when the tax will be implemented. Yesterday, the minister said it was still to be brought on stream this coming Monday. However, Mr Flowers told The Nassau Guardian the date has been pushed back to September 1.
Mr D'Aguilar told reporters the tax study is ongoing but could not reveal who the hired consultants were or how much the undertaking costs.
Asked whether there was a possibility the five percent rate would be reduced, Mr D'Aguilar said: "Every tax gets changed. No government is going to stand here and tell you that no tax will ever change.
"So we will look at it we will look at all taxes as we do every year or whenever we look at it and we will tweak whatever we think needs to be tweaked.
"No government minister has ever stood up here and said that's it, that's it forever, maybe about the value added tax but no one's ever going to say that."
Earlier, The Tribune asked the minister whether the government had any concerns that the tax would affect the government's revenue projections based on Mr Flowers' assertion the industry would shrink.
He said: "Obviously. I mean obviously we are concerned about every allegation or every proposal made by the gaming industry. We look into it.
"This is why we decided based on their suggestion that we look further into it. That's why we're looking into it.
"May I remind you that governments are always tweaking taxes? Every budget year we increase this tax reduce this tax so this is nothing out of the ordinary.
"They've made a proposition that this is going to negatively affect their business. Everybody said that about the introduction of the VAT at 7.5 percent."
He continued: "Yes there is probably a little dip to begin with but people resume their consumption patterns. So we'll do what we said we were going to do. We'll look at it and get back to you with a decision."
Initially, the government said the stamp tax was to take effect on July 1.
Last month, Mr D'Aguilar explained there had been a delay because there was a need to modify point of sale systems and gaming platforms.
However, until it does happen, Mr Flowers said the entire industry is at a standstill.
In May, Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest said the new stamp tax on web shop deposits and digital online sales was to come on stream at the same time as a new sliding tax scale on gaming houses.
At the time, he said: "We are increasing the taxation of gaming house activities through the introduction of a sliding scale of rates applied to taxable revenue, namely: up to $20m, a rate of 20 percent; between $20m and $40m, a rate of 25 percent; between $40m and $60m, a rate of 30 percent; between $60m and $80m, a rate of 35 percent; between $80m and $100m, a rate of 40per cent; and over $100m, a rate of 50 percent."