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Does BTL Owe $29M in Taxes? FinSec Says Not a ‘Live Matter’

Does BTL Owe $29M in Taxes? FinSec Says Not a ‘Live Matter’
June 28
18:31 2019

In a press release issued this evening, Belize Telemedia Limited has denied allegations that it owes $29M in outstanding payments to the General Sales Tax Department, stating that it pays and continues to pay the ‘appropriate GST’ on a monthly basis.

A number of documents leaked to the media this week indicated that Belize Telemedia Ltd., the company nationalized through a complicated legal battle and ultimately costing tax-payers more than half-a-billion dollars, reportedly owes an incredible outstanding sum of approximately $50 Million to the General Sales Tax (GST) department, including a principal unpaid sum, and calculated penalties and interest.

The leaked documents show BTL owing over $29.3 Million to the GST Department over a period of time from 2012-2017. A simple calculation on the allegedly unpaid taxes show $17.9 Million in interest alone. Penalties from each outstanding year would total some $2.9 Million bringing the total sum owed to the GST Department to a figure in the range of $50.1 Million.

In its release, which is in response to a news story which aired the allegations on Wednesday, BTL states, “the inaccuracy of the news article can easily be verified by seeking clarification from the Ministry of Finance.”

Today Financial Secretary Joseph Waight told the Reporter that he had not seen the documents in question and could not confirm their credibility. He confirmed, however, the he does understand the GST Department had been conducting an assessment of BTL’s accounts but said the audit has not been completed and no official report has been published. He said as such, currently there is no claim against BTL and that it is currently not a “live matter” being pursued.

Waight said the Ministry of Finance intends to have a meeting with all the involved parties to see what can be worked out in terms of settling any outstanding balance owed by BTL. The company’s Chairman, however, on Thursday, denied that BTL owed any outstanding sum to the GST Department and declined further comment on the matter.

In 2011, businesswoman Catherine Barothy was escorted by tax officers to the police station where she was hauled off in a prison bus, the lone female among inmates in chains, and taken to court to answer for a sum of $41,000 owed to the department. Barothy was one of 13 allegedly rounded up to pay outstanding debts to the GST Department. There have also been several other instances of business owners appearing in court for unpaid GST taxes.

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