Private sector groups urge passage of FATCA legislation
Seven private sector organisations Tuesday called on the Trinidad and Tobago government and opposition to put aside their differences and ensure the country meets the September 30 deadline for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
They also warned that failure to do so could result in ”serious negative consequences” for the local economy.
FACTA aims to crack down on tax dodgers who hide hundreds of millions of US dollars in offshore accounts annually in an effort to avoid paying Washington its due.
United States Ambassador John Estrada said last week he is having a “hard time understanding” why the country is having a problem meeting the September 30 deadline.
Last week, government agreed to send the legislation to a Joint Select Committee and Finance Minister Colm Imbert said Port of Spain would be seeking an extension from Washington after the opposition, headed by former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, refused to support the legislation based on several concerns.
In a full page advertisement in a local newspaper here, the private sector organisations including the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM), the Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies (ATTIC) and the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT), called on legislators to ensure passage of the bill within the deadline.
They said they “strongly urge both the government…and the opposition to expedite their discussions and work together with a greater sense of urgency to pass the Tax Information Exchange Bill 2016 to meet the September 30, 2016 deadline.
“This is necessary to give effect to the Inter-Governmental Agreement signed between this country and the United States of America on August 19th, 2016 regarding the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA)”.
The private sector group, which also included the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries and the Trinidad and Tobago manufacturers Association, said an urgent request is being made to pass the bill before the deadline “and thereafter the implementation of the necessary infrastructure at the Board of Inland Revenue drawing as necessary on the precedents existing in other Caribbean countries.
“We fear that delaying this any further may result in serious negative consequences for the stability of the economy as well as individuals and businesses.
“If non-compliant, international corresponding banking relationships may be terminated, resulting in severe restrictions on everyday banking services such as remittances services, credit card and wire transactions, and other services requiring access to the US financial system”.
The private sector groups also warn that the local market “could also become uncompetitive as trade services which are essential to many public and private sector businesses, as well as individual citizens, may also be restricted”.
The groups also note that already low prices and reduced production in the energy sector have been undermining Trinidad and Tobago’s economic standing and “in order to preserve the integrity of our financial system we must meet this deadline.
“It is interesting to note that the current deadline already denotes an extension granted by the US government since September 2015. We therefore, once again, urge both the government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Opposition to expedite the approval process and enact the legislation
“Having reviewed the legislation, we are of the view that there is still enough time to convene Parliament and have the bill debated and passed before the deadline,” they said.