By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The deputy prime minister said that the back to school value added tax (VAT) tax holiday is “absolutely” still on the table to help citizens during this difficult times brought on by the COVID-19 shutdown.
K Peter Turnquest, speaking to reporters outside cabinet office yesterday added “We are going to have the two week, in fact it is three weeks, of a VAT free back to school shopping as an attempt to try and assist people the best way we can as they go back to school realising that a lot of people are going to have challenges, so this is one way that we are trying to help along with the other assistance programmes that we have offered.”
Late yesterday afternoon, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement, which said the ministry “advises the public that the Back-to-School VAT Holiday will begin on Monday, August 31, 2020. The purpose of the tax relief measure, announced during the Budget Debate, is to make back to school shopping less expensive for parents while providing support to local businesses throughout The Bahamas. The Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) will work with businesses across the country to administer this tax relief measure.”
“While the country grapples with the ongoing health and economic crisis, the Government will continue to find ways to reduce the financial strain on families and businesses and provide support where we can. With the VAT holiday on school supplies, parents and teachers will be able to find some financial relief as they prepare for the reopening of school. Even with the tax breaks, many people will still need the support of the broader community, so we continue to encourage and celebrate those who have been rallying together to support their neighbours, family members, friends and even strangers,” said Mr Turnquest.
Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education, said: “We know parents and teachers across the country are anxious to prepare for the reopening of schools in September, and the transition to virtual school. Naturally, there are learning tools required for remote learning that were not necessary for in person learning. The Government has ensured that the VAT holiday covers traditional school supplies, such as notebooks, folders and other stationary, and digital learning tools such as personal computers, tablets and other related accessories.”
The release continued, “The Back-to-School VAT holiday will cover a range of locally purchased school supplies, including school uniforms, clothing, backpacks, electronic book readers, and even school snacks. The comprehensive list will be available on the DIR website. Imported items are not included under the VAT Holiday and will attract the ordinary border taxes.”
Gaynell Rolle, comptroller of the DIR, said: “The Department of Inland Revenue will work with businesses to ensure this tax relief initiative is delivered smoothly. All merchants who are VAT registrants and are licensed to sell back to school supplies will be required to participate. Consumers will benefit from the VAT savings at the cash register.”
The VAT holiday will run from Monday, August 31, to Sunday, September 20.