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The IRD Casts Light on TAPA

IRD Comptroller Marcia Vite
IRD Comptroller, Marcia Vite

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has welcomed the recent media coverage and public discourse on the Draft Tax Administration Procedures Act (TAPA), which was circulated to select stakeholders for comment last year. The Comptroller and Senior Legal Officer at the IRD have sought to clarify some of the issues surrounding the draft legislation.

The Tax Administration Procedures Act or (TAPA) is a draft piece of legislation, that seeks to revise, consolidate, and harmonize the rules relating to the administration of the tax laws of Saint Lucia and to ensure the efficient collection of taxes and other fees in the nature of taxes.  Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), Marcia Vite explained that the TAPA is currently being used by other international and regional jurisdictions.  She said Antigua, for example, has been using the TAPA for quite some time.

“The common parts of those legislations like the income tax act, the VAT act, we’ve sought to take these and put them in a piece of legislation for ease for the taxpayer. So, you will find that the collections section of those pieces of legislation are very similar, so we put it in a TAPA. So the TAPA is basically for the taxpayer for ease of reference and for the business person.”

IRD’s Senior Legal Officer, Catherine Spooner, welcomed the media coverage of the draft piece of legislation, which she noted was circulated to stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Saint Lucia Bar Association, and the Accountants Association for comments. These comments will form part of a second draft of the TAPA.

“So, we will not be finalizing the bill until we’ve done the second level engagement and thereafter we will be putting it on our website for wider circulation,” She said.

Spooner emphasised that the new draft bill is framed to provide an important balance between the rights of a taxpayer and the obligations of the IRD.

“There are several provisions that were not otherwise clear in the other pieces of legislation having to do with taxpayers’ rights. It also, I think, is important to know that it identifies timelines by which the IRD or the Comptroller should act. Failing that, the taxpayer’s rights kick in. So no longer will a taxpayer have to sit back and say I have not heard from the IRD. If we are not meeting the timeline the taxpayer now initiates the right to act against the IRD. So, I think this bill is important and it underscores the right of a taxpayer.”

The drafting of the Tax Administration Procedures Act commenced in 2020 with the assistance of an International organization. The IRD Comptroller highlighted the arduous task of putting legislation together. After numerous internal reviews the first draft was circulated last year.

“But, there is actually nothing new. The individual pieces of legislation remain, it does not replace them. So the income tax act will still be the Income Tax Act and the VAT Act and of course, all the others, the Insurance Premium Tax Act, etc. would remain and they will be utilized because it’s only the sections that are similar that would be placed in the TAPA for ease of reference.”

The Comptroller has given the assurance that the draft Tax Administration Procedures Act will soon be placed on the IRD’s website and public comment will be welcomed via a specified email address.

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