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GOB Will Appeal Multi-Million$$$$ Ruling

GOB Will Appeal Multi-Million$$$$ Ruling
February 01
10:05 2019 - REPORTER NEWSPAPER - Feb. 1st. - 

The government of Belize plans to go for another round of litigation with the Ashcroft Alliance, this time to appeal a ruling handed down last week by the Supreme Court in the Belize Bank’s favor against the Income and Business Tax Commissioner, essentially giving the bank exemption from paying taxes until the $96 Million (plus accruing interest) UHS judgement debt is settled.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, told the Reporter on Thursday that he was not present in court for last week’s ruling but GOB understands that the ruling was handed down orally and they are awaiting a written copy. He added, though, that GOB is not satisfied with the decision and hopes to have the decision overturned as GOB believes it has solid grounds on which to appeal.

According to Waight, the ruling does not render the bank exempt from tax, though Justice Courtney Abel issued an order restraining the Commissioner and her agents from seeking to enforce the tax liability against the bank until the judgement debt is settled. Waight says while the court has restrained the Commissioner from seeking to enforce collection, the tax owed by the bank continues to accrue.

He further explained that the $8.5 Million in taxes owed by the bank for the first quarter of 2018 was due to an above average revenue stream for the bank. According to Waight, on average, the quarterly tax paid by the bank amounts to around $2 Million. We also asked Waight if there has been any consideration by GOB to settle the matter rather than going to litigation, perhaps by way of off-setting the bank’s taxes against the judgement debt, which continues to accrue a 6 percent interest, for a fixed period of time to clear the judgement.

According to Waight, any such decision would need to be discussed and agreed upon by Cabinet but to his knowledge, no such discussion has yet been had, though the current administration has said publicly on numerous occasions that it will never pay the UHS award as per the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice.


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