UNAUDITED $40 MILLION OWED TO GOVERNMENT IN TAXES, FEES 10% Off Property Tax If Paid By July 7

anguillian
By anguillian July 3, 2017 13:52

 

 

Mr. Kiel Connor

Mr. Kiel Connor

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is one of the most important agencies of the Government of Anguilla and, by its name, has oversight for the payment and collection of all taxes and fees owed by the public. The present Comptroller is a young man, Mr. Kiel Connor, who has an impressive background in Finance and Risk Management earned, to a large extent, during his private sector years of employment and training in the banking and insurance industry.

As implied earlier, among his main responsibilities is to ensure that there is no massive build-up of debt owed to Government. At present, the IRD, through him, is looking into the possibility of collecting millions of dollars in EC currency owed to the Government by a number of businesses and individuals throughout the island.
“The total outstanding unaudited revenue is around forty million,” he told The Anguillian in an interview. “When I joined the public service as the Compliance Manager for Inland Revenue, my primary role was to identify where the leakages were and to make recommendations as to how we can reduce the debt. The main issue, I would say, was an ineffective risk management framework which we are now in the process of rectifying.”
“Does the IRD have any person or persons on the road collecting the owed taxes and fees?” he was asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “However, we are currently focusing on strengthening our relationships with other Government agencies and external statutory bodies in an effort to improve our compliance. That’s the new approach going forward – not only going out and doing field work, but using those departmental relationships to ensure that we are in a position to collect outstanding revenue.”

“Is compliance then the new term for debt collection?”
“No. Compliance is more a strategy or framework that we are putting in place to ensure taxpayers honour their outstanding debt to the Government of Anguilla. For example, we are working very closely with Customs and Immigration, among other entities, to ensure that we are in a position to hold people accountable and to ensure that we can collect what we are supposed to.
“The first thing we are in the process of doing is identifying what is collectable, from what is uncollectable – hence why I mentioned that the forty million dollars is unaudited.”

Told that there was a school of thought that efforts should in fact be made to collect outstanding money owed to Government, rather than imposing new taxation, Mr. Connor replied: “I agree with that but there are a number of factors that can come into play. If you were to implement a new tax and you have not effectively put measures in place to deal with current issues, then you are compounding the situation. From that standpoint, I agree with ensuring that you are in a position to effectively monitor and control outstanding taxes rather than imposing new taxes.”

The money owed to Government is mainly for Accommodation Tax, Tourism Levy, Property Tax and the Interim Stabilisation Levy. These are among the main measures of revenue generation. This year’s estimated revenue is 270.2 million. The collection of this revenue depends on economic growth as well as stakeholders/taxpayers fulfilling their tax obligation.

Questioned as to whether there were any new incentives to encourage taxpayers to pay their outstanding bills, the Comptroller of Inland Revenue replied in the affirmative. “Yes, with Property Tax, there is a 10% discount being offered to persons if they pay their total outstanding tax including arrears,” he said. “This offer is due to expire on July 7 so after that date they would not qualify for it. They are encouraged to come in and make the necessary arrangements to settle their outstanding payments.

“The Government has seen it fit, in these difficult financial times, to give an incentive to all stakeholders in order to encourage them to fulfil their obligations in a timely manner.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Connor disclosed that a debt recovery policy has just been completed. “It is to provide a guide as to how we should go about dealing with outstanding debt,” he explained. “For example, it gives reference to remedies for failure of non-compliance including garnish order, charge order, seizure and sale of assets and receivership – all of which are to be decided by the Court. Currently, the Inland Revenue Department does not have the authority to apply those remedies so we would have to go through the Court process for now. This is unlike Customs which has the authority to administer those remedies in-house. Legislation gives Customs that support.’’

Asked what was the biggest issue facing his department, Connor’s response was: “It is to influence a culture of compliance and an appreciation for paying taxes. Coming from a compliance background, you are taught to explain to people why they need to comply and the need to do the right thing. Earlier in our interview I referred to taxpayers as stakeholders. When an individual or entity pays taxes they are investing in the development of the island.” Replying to another question, he said his department expected to recruit additional staff in the near future primarily in compliance and audit.

Connor, 33, joined the public service in June 2015 as Compliance Manager at the Inland Revenue Department where he served until June 2016. He was then promoted as Comptroller on July 1, 2016. “I consider it to be a blessing,” he acknowledged. “Professionally, Mr. Ernest V Banks and Mr. Clement Ruan helped to shape who I am today. I am pleased to have worked closely with Mr. Perin Bradley, who is now the Deputy Governor, whom I consider to be one of my mentors, as well as Dr. Aidan Harrigan, my Permanent Secretary. They have been very instrumental in my growth in the public service thus far.”
He previously worked for seven years in the Compliance Department at the former National Bank of Anguilla, and for another seven years he managed Quantum Investment Services Limited – a sister company of D3 Enterprises. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of the West Indies and has just completed an International Diploma in Governance Risk and Compliance. He is a Member of the International Compliance Association in London, and is pursuing a Post-graduate Degree in Governance Risk and Compliance which he hopes to complete in October this year. He will be pursuing his Masters of Science in Law, Governance Risk and Compliance in 2018.
Mr. Connor found that compliance was an area of study that few persons, if any, in Anguilla had pursued. “As a compliance professional you have the mandate to influence the culture of an organization – demonstrating to your superiors why they need to do the right thing and how the organization can benefit positively from those decisions. On the other hand, you are also expected to identify potential risk and demonstrate to your superiors how those risks can negatively affect the organization if the correct action is not taken.” he added.

He is the son of Mrs. Grethel Connor, who resides in England, and the late Commissioner of the Royal Anguilla Police Force, Mr. Donald Connor. “My father would have been proud of me,” Kiel, one of the many young professionals in the public service, quipped.

anguillian
By anguillian July 3, 2017 13:52

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