DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
FINANCE Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday urged web shop operators to pay their taxes out of an obligation to the government regardless of beliefs or legal arguments they intend to mount.
As a result of some operators failing to pay the taxes, Mr Turnquest said the government is about $5m down from its projections. “There has been some delay in collections,” Mr Turnquest said yesterday in response to questions from the media outside Cabinet. We continue to work with the gaming industry to have them accept [and] agree that the negotiated position arrived at is fair to all concerned and that they ought to now meet their commitment.
“There are two of the gaming houses – one that is completely compliant the other is partially compliant and there are some that are not compliant.
“We encourage all of them regardless of what you think, regardless of any legal challenge that may be out there that you intend to mount, that you have an obligation to the state to pay your taxes.
“My part and my job is to collect the government taxes that is due and I certainly would encourage them to.”
He did not name the web shops.
Their failure, he said, has had some implications, but finance officials remain hopeful they’ll meet the deficit target.
“Any reduction or failure to collect taxes that are due that have been budgeted is going to cause some affect. We’ve seen that.
“There is no denying that there is going to be short fall in budgeted revenue from gaming, but again the good news is we’ve been able to manage our expenditure side. So we’re still hopefully expectant that we will meet our deficit target.”
Late last month, Attorney General Carl Bethel warned web shop industry’s tax hold-outs they are on “very shaky ground” in failing to comply with the settlement agreed with the government.
He told Tribune Business that the Minnis administration had strong legal arguments against the position being taken by Wayne Munroe QC and his three web shop clients - Island Game, Paradise Game and Asure Win.
Two of these operators are understood to have only paid taxes due for July 2018, while the other and Craig Flowers’ FML Group of Companies have yet to pay anything at all for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Mr Bethel has also accused Mr Munroe of “playing games”, with the attorney general’s efforts to reach his QC counterpart before and during the Easter weekend proving fruitless as the latter was off-island.
Disclosing that “nothing as yet” has been resolved between the government and industry hold-outs, Mr Bethel told this newspaper previously: “I called Mr Munroe. He said he was off the island and saw the missed calls, but never called back. I’ll give him a call.”
Tribune Business has further confirmed that Mr Munroe and his clients are opposing the retroactive payment of taxes for the 2018-2019 fiscal year’s first half under the old rate structure.