Chamber ‘carefully monitoring’ frustrations over DIR tax portal


Tribune Business Editor


The Chamber of Commerce’s chairman last night said it is “carefully monitoring” mounting private sector frustration caused by the struggle to access the Department of Inland Revenue’s online tax portal.

Timothy Ingraham, in a messaged response to Tribune Business inquiries, confirmed the Chamber had contacted the tax authority to find out when the problems will be resolved and is now awaiting a response after multiple businesses were unable to connect to the system yesterday.

“The Chamber is carefully monitoring the issues being experienced by persons attempting to complete their tax reporting on the new online tax system,” he said. “We have contacted the Department of Inland Revenue to confirm the timeline for resolution of the issues being experienced and are awaiting a response from them.”

Noting that the Department of Inland Revenue is publishing guidance for businesses on social media outlets, the Chamber chairman pledged: “We will continue to monitor the situation and seek answers from the Department of Inland Revenue.” 

The inability to log-in to accounts, and make tax payments; file returns and declarations; and conduct other inquiries has struck at a time when the Bahamian private sector is already anxious over the enhanced Business Licence verification reporting and requirement for firms with $5m turnover or greater to provide audited financial statements.

VAT returns and payments for December 2023 are due to be submitted within 14 days for larger companies, and 21 for others, while Business Licence filings and unaudited revenue numbers must be provided to the Department of Inland Revenue by end-January. All this means that the system woes, which appear to have stemmed from a recent upgrade, have struck at the worst possible time.

Tribune Business was pointed in the direction of Dexter Fernander, the Department of Inland Revenue’s operations chief, for comment but the number provided for him rang out multiple times and he could not be reached.

Businesses did receive an e-mail from the Department of Inland Revenue yesterday announcing the release of the updated platform, and notifying them that their user accounts and tax information were successfully migrated.

They were provided with a link, and instructed to activate their user accounts and set a new password. However, some users complained of not being sent an e-mail or receiving error messages when entering information.

Kendrick Christie, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Bahamas Chapter and a Crowe (Bahamas) partner, told Tribune Business he was aware of the “growing pains” with the online tax administration portal following the recent upgrade.

“There seems to have been an upgrade to the Department of Inland Revenue site, the tax portal,” Mr Christie said. “I’m in this group of Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountant (BICA) members and it seems like with this upgrade there’s growing pains. 

“Some persons are not able to get into the portal, some are not able to receive their e-mails. I saw that in some cases the e-mails went to the person’s spam folder. It’s a mixed result. It’s good that they’re upgrading, but it causes angst for users, clients and accountants. It’s not a normal year.

“We know persons are calling the Department of Inland Revenue, and in some cases it seems like it’s resolved and in some cases it takes some time to resolve. I hope they put sufficient resources behind it, and there may need to be some consideration for timelines” with VAT filing deadlines for larger companies with turnover in excess of $5m just ten days away.

Mr Christie also suggested that the Department of Inland Revenue’s customer service capabilities needed to be strengthened via the creation of online agents and chat features, with technical teams “on hand for several weeks so they can answer questions for these users.

One accountant, speaking on condition of anonymity, added: “I had a meeting with a prospective client today and they told me they couldn’t get on since the 25th [of December]. I followed up with my team, and was told it is still down and will be up tomorrow. You go to log-in for my firm, and all of a sudden our clients are popping up in the file when we should only be seeing our firm.”

A business owner voiced complaints about the timing of the system upgrade, and questioned whether the Department of Inland Revenue could handle the large volume of users that logged on to the platform.

She said: “This is crazy. I don’t know what’s going on, or if they can handle the crowd or the load. We logged in and changed the password, and tried to put in the user ID, but it kept giving an error. So I decided to call instead of getting locked out of the account, and I had to make multiple calls because the wait was like ten minutes.

“When I finally got through and told them what I needed assistance with, they told me the system was down. I asked when it would be back up and they told me to try again later this afternoon or in the morning.” She added that this is the first time in the 26 years her business has been operating that the process has been so frustrating.

She said: “I’m waiting to pay the Government their money. Y’all don’t want y’all money? Why would they do that now? I’ve never had this issue. This is Business Licence time, its time to renew Business Licences and it’s time to pay VAT. Why change the platform now?”


LastManStanding 6 months, 1 week ago

The problem isn't so much the timing as it is the fact that it's pretty apparent that this system did not undergo thorough QA. It's almost as if the developer ran this on their local machine and pushed straight to production expecting everything to work smoothly without even doing the bare minimum to bug fix, and for sure did not do any stress testing.

The push for digitization is a good thing, but people with a technical background need to be in charge of it. This debacle, and the million dollar website from a few months ago, shows that this government is completely incompetent/naive with anything software related.

Sign in to comment