POND ISLAND–“I urge everyone, who is having sleepless nights, because of their bad behaviour in the past of not reporting properly the income they have generated to please do so now,” urged Finance Minister Richard Gibson, Sr. at the Council of Ministers Press Briefing this week.
His call came together with his announcement about a law in preparation to give residents, who have not reported all their income and assets a one-time grace period to do so without penalty. “It will be a one-time opportunity to come completely clean and get rid of sleepless nights,” Gibson, Sr. said.
Incentives will be built into the legislation to maximize revenues collected for those who have exhibited “bad behaviour” in the past. “This is an opportunity you have every reason to take advantage of,” he said.
“The aim is to attract additional revenues badly needed to develop our country,” he said of the law that still needs to get the approval of the Council of Ministers and Parliament. “St. Maarten every year struggles to produce balanced budgets; the main cause is that revenue are insufficient to cover government expenses.”
Unreported income and undisclosed assets locally and abroad is a plague every country suffers from, the Minister said. To cope with this, several countries have started programmes “to give citizens an opportunity to correct their bad behaviour by allowing them to come clean and file their unreported income and assets acquired from unreported income,” Gibson, Sr. said, explaining the premise for the pending local legislation.
Further details of the pending legislation will be released in the near future, the Minister said.
As a sidebar of the local legislation, the Minister noted that starting on January 1, 2018, the Common Reporting System (CRS) will come online worldwide. This will require financial institutions in all signatory countries to immediately report finances and assets to the Tax Office of the resident country of the account holders.