PHILIPSBURG:—- On January 12, 2016 the Parliament of Sint Maarten approved an amendment to the National Ordinance on appeals in tax matters (Landsverordening op het beroep in belastingzaken 1940). The essence of this amendment is the introduction of appeal in two instances in tax matters in order to improve the legal protection of taxpayers. The amendment is expected to go into effect on May 1, 2016.
If a person does not agree with a tax assessment imposed on him or with an appealable decision by the tax inspector, they can submit a letter of protest to the tax inspector. With regard to this letter, the tax inspector shall issue a decision open for objection.
In the current situation, a person who does not agree with the decision rendered on his letter of objection by the tax inspector, may only lodge an appeal with the Board of Appeal in Tax Cases. The ruling of the Board of Appeal in Tax Cases is irrevocable. This means that after this judicial tribunal has rendered its decision, one’s tax dispute is fully and finally settled. Further appeal is not possible and parties have to respect the outcome.
Furthermore, due to the large number of appeals, delays of more than one year before the appeal is handled, are not uncommon.
Situation after the amendment goes into effect
Once the amendment goes into effect, a person can appeal a decision of the tax inspectorate at the Court of First Instance of Sint Maarten. It will no longer be possible to file an appeal to the Board of Appeal in Tax Cases because this court will cease to exist. Appeals must be filed to the Court of First Instance of Sint Maarten. This court will also take over all appeals which are pending before the Board of Appeal in Tax Cases, on the day the amendment goes into effect.
If a party does not agree with the decision of the Court of First Instance in a tax dispute, that party may file an (higher) appeal with the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.
It is expected that appeals will be handled in a much shorter period by the Court of First Instance of Sint Maarten than in the current situation with the Board of Appeal in Tax Cases.
Source: St. Martin News Network Information session on tax amendment at USM