New GST policy aims to ensure businesses comply with the law

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

The Department of General Sales Tax (GST) has implemented a new policy that will change the registration process for new businesses from now on. The new rule will require any person who is registering a new business to apply to the Commissioner of the GST for a compliance letter prior to visiting the Companies Registry. The norm was implemented in an attempt to crack down on businesses that are not complying with the laws.46-gst-logo
Recent reports from the GST are that there are many businesses flouting the tax laws. According to Genevie Jones, Supervisor of the Tax Payer Unit, they have officers visiting business establishments countrywide on a random basis to make checks and find out if the various aspects of the GST Act are being complied with. “Failure to comply with GST provisions is a criminal offense,” Jones told the media.
A key important aspect of compliance is for a programmable cash register to always be in the establishment. “Businesses must issue a tax receipt or tax invoice to customers displaying the GST certificate at a place where it is visible to the public,” said Jones. Businesses must also keep proper books and records, she emphasized. “Failure to do so, exposes a business to court prosecution.
Another reason for the implementation of this new rule is due to the fact that business owners sometimes make changes to their establishments without notifying the corresponding authorities. “If there are any changes, the business owner must inform the GST Commissioner by filling out a form to alert the Department of any changes,” explained Jones. “For example: the status of the business, if there are changes, such as that of owners, the Commissioner must be advised within seven days.” Failure to do so can result in a $1,000 fine and a $100 per day fine for each day that the offense continues.
There have been a few incidents whereby the owner of a business has broken the law and is summoned to court. But when the person is to appear in court, a different individual takes his place, claiming to represent the business or to be part of the business. This is where the conflict arises, since the Department has not been informed of any changes. Even though some may argue that under the GST Act, another person can be appointed by the business owner as his/her principal, it must now be reported now.
In the past, accused business proprietors have been caught by claiming that they no longer own the business. In such situations, the previous owner is summoned, especially if the person has arrears in taxes. GST also explains that if the owner cannot be located the new owner may be released on bail and his case adjourned. However, in order for the business to stay operating, the new owner will have to take care of any arrears or other pending liabilities left by the previous proprietor.
GST takes the opportunity to encourage the general public, businesses owners to abide by the law. The business community is warned that in worse case scenarios, failure to comply with this new law, and committing other tax offences can result in fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, and can also include a one year sentence in prison.
For more information, contact the GST during normal working hours at 222-5574 or email generalsalestax@gst.gov.bz

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