WHILE LARGER FOREIGN OWNED TAX CONCESSION BUSINESSES ARE TAX FREE. IT IS ALSO ALLEGED IN THIS ELECTION YEAR, THE CONTROLLING PEOPLES UNITED PARTY ARE VICTIMIZING THEIR PERCEIVED OPPOSITION AND THEIR FAMILIES WITH USE OF ARTIFICIAL SALES TAXES, PENALTIES AND LAWS THAT TIE PEOPLE UP IN COURT, OR STRIP THEM OF THEIR HOMES AND ASSETS. THE COMPLAINTS ARE STARTING TO PILE UP AND ALLEGATIONS OF UNFAIR OPPRESSION ON THE INCREASE, BASED ON THE ALLEGATIONS BY MANY VICTIMS COMPLAINTS FROM PLACENTIA TO COROZAL AND OFFSHORE CAYES THAT THIS IS A PREMEDITAED PLOY TO SILENCE ANY POLITICAL OPPOSITION BY USE OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS UNDER THE CONTROL OF POLITICAL CABINET MINISTERS OF THE PUP. The truth will come out eventually, but in the meantime the election will be over. Are these allegations fact or fiction?
One of many examples:
To be honest, the Caye Caulker business community was approached in August of this year by the sales tax dept., informing us that we needed to pay sales tax on our tours (meaning snorkeling trips, dive trips, gear rentals, canoe rentals, etc.) which is pretty much everything that the small mom and pop business does on Caye Caulker.
It came at a time when I was getting ready to close up for the DEAD tourist months of September and October. It makes absolutely no sense to go to work in any type of tourism business during these two months as there is just no business at all. Which I did.
I filed my return for those two months stating that my taxable sales would be ZERO and thought nothing more of it until I received the "best judgment assessment" from the sales tax office by registered mail today, where it clearly states that they are billing me for my "assessed sales" for October plus the interest penalty of 5% PER DAY. The compound interest alone on their "assessed sales tax due" was DOUBLE the "assessment" value.
Today, my eyes opened clearly and I saw the dilemma I and the business community faced. Or then again, maybe I have been saying the same thing many times over: the tax system in place now is designed to put local people out of business. Plain and simple.
Why hasn't the business community lobbied against such a thing, you ask? Why? Probably because they must like it. As the voice of a small business person myself, I will honestly say that I was not aware of this incredible thievery by my GOB until today. My first move was to call the Prime Minister wanting to ask him what he had against small businesses trying to simply make a living and feed our children. Of course, he didn't return my call. He was in a meeting his secretary said. I suppose that planning the upcoming election takes precedence to my phone call. Who knows?
Still, from a personal perspective only, one chief obstacle the small business community faces is a lack of representation in organized groups such as the BTIA, BHA, etc. The application fees for those organizations is geared towards representations for middle or richer businesses only. Small businesses cannot afford to pay to even join to have a voice and it is quite sad, frankly. Especially since they are the ones most needing a voice.
I look at San Pedro and now Placencia, and as much as I have nothing against foreigners moving to Belize and making a living, I think of how utterly unfair it is to local businesses that the foreign money coming in is allowed more often than not to come in with tax concessions and exemptions, while the little local owned mom and pop business (mostly Belizean owned), are taxed mercilessly out of existence. Still, the tax free foreign business sits next to my locally-owned fully taxed and over-taxed business and I must compete with them, on a level playing field?
I do not dislike foreigners or foreign investment, please let's understand that. I am simply totally against a system that by itself will cause the ethnic cleansing of Belize of its locally raised business people simply because the system is so grossly tipped against us.
There are no foreign owned snorkel shops on Caye Caulker, the industry that will be most affected by this sales taxing. The foreign money owns the hotels that send their customers to the local snorkel shops. Hotels do not pay sales tax. They pay 7% hotel tax, which also bears an interest penalty if not paid on time, but nothing close to the loan-sharking of the sales tax. Most snorkel shop owners on Caye Caulker are simple fishermen who took a tour guide training course and are trying to keep up with the times. Many (including myself) do not even know that they could loose their house and lot and their boats next month if they hadn't filed their taxes this month. I find it grossly unfair.