THE Commissioner of Solomon Islands Inland Revenue Division (IRD) Joseph Dokekana says the tax imposed on bus and taxi owners has gone through due process through interviews and actual records inspected and it is very fair and marginal.
Mr Dokekana made the statement to clarify their position on the tax enforcement on income earned by local public transport owners.
He said the imposed tax is not new and that bus and taxi owners are liable to pay income tax just like all other businesses in Solomon Islands.
“The law is clear if you earn income and make a profit you need to pay income tax, just like those persons who are employed or run a business.
“IRD also wish to advise that a number of meetings, discussions and interviews have been conducted with significant number of bus and taxi owners in the past years and in the recent couple of months,” the Commissioner said.
He said with those meetings have also provided guidance and advice to the transport providers.
The Commissioner said there were consultations done on this tax changes.
“We also taken into account the impact it will have on the owners as they have not been taxed for so long while other industries, sectors and employees have been taxed on their income.
“Under the Tax Act the Commissioner is able to issue default assessments without a taxpayer lodging an income tax return based on the Commissioner’s best judgment,” he added.
Mr Dokekana said if a public transport owner disagrees with the amount of the tax they can lodge tax returns for the years showing fares received less expenses paid and the difference will be the profit on which tax will be charged.
He said the IRD have been attempting to talk to the Public Transport Association for the past 3 years but meetings arranged were never attended as they have no active association.
The Commissioner added IRD promised to work with the members of the private sector who are willing to comply with the Solomon Islands laws and to make it easier for them to meet their tax obligations.
“Already over 300 bus and taxi owners have registered with IRD and received default assessments and a guide. IRD will work with individual owners to help them pay the tax payable by installments over a period of time,” he said.
The Interim Chairman of the Public Transport Association yesterday met with Mr Dokekana and his department is working with the interim association and its members and other stakeholders including police to come to a solution.
The Commissioner then appeal to all business persons throughout the country to work together with the Solomon Islands Tax Administration and its officials to promote voluntary compliance in meeting their tax obligations.
“Our efforts will be focused on providing Solomon Islanders with a service; to help people get things right through advice and guidance.
“Importantly, we are also ready and able to deal with those who knowingly step outside the tax system and hold them to account,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Transport Association Interim Leader Leonard Ofa yesterday confirmed the proposed protest for today will go ahead.
This means no public transport service providers will out on our roads to provide transport services today.
This paper understands if that is the case, most people especially students who will sit for their exams today and workers will be affected.
By IAN MCDONALD