noimageIs the charging of General Sales Tax on businesses in Belize done on a fair and equitable basis, or is there manipulation, bias or even malice. While we can’t say if the last two exist, a strong-worded letter written by Elmer Reyes, the GST officer in Punta Gorda, to Solicitor General, who is the Government’s legal advisor, confirms that GST senior managers are guilty of manipulating the system to raise more revenue in particular cases.

Reyes’ four-page letter has been leaked to the media. In it, he asks for a legal opinion to the question: “to what extent should Department of General Sales Tax Management be allowed to influence the outcome of Department of General Sales Tax Auditor’s Audit results/Auditor Report”?

Now, the mere question raises allegations that this is what is occurring at the GST Department. Audits are conducted on the Department to ensure that true revenue generated and GST payments made are reflected in the records, but the letter indicates otherwise.

Reyes further explains in his letter that his by-the-books method of reporting to auditors has been questioned and challenged by senior managers, even though the GST assessment and reporting process imposed on him does not exist in any system of auditing. Still, according to Reyes he was called before a senior panel including the Commissioner of GST, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and two Audit Supervisors to explain why he was not following directives.

In his letter, Reyes posits that the outcomes of GST audits should not be influenced by Management because the opinion of the Auditor should be respected. Reyes also argues that the GST Commissioner should not be directly involved in assessing taxpayers.

The letter was drafted in December 2016, and we have not confirmed if there has been any resolution to the issue.

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