Month: July 2017

Paying the Piper.

Tax on companies is called corporate tax.  Tax on personal income is called income tax.  In 2015, the Government received $210 Million from taxing companies and $452 Million from taxing individuals’ income.  The Government also received other taxes from individuals.  For example, much of the $811 M from VAT and $150 M from property taxes.

Companies normally receive significantly more revenues than what workers collectively earn.  Therefore, why must workers carry more than twice the tax burden as companies?  The answer lies in a ridiculous legally permitted loophole that all companies are instructed to exploit.  The Government of Barbados has decided to tax companies on their profits.

A company sells products and the total amount earned is called revenue.  However, the company had to pay for materials and labour to produce the products.  The costs that a company spent to produce the products are called expenses.  When expenses are deducted from revenue, the result is called profit.

Since the Government of Barbados taxes profit, the reasonable aim of company owners is to reduce the amount of profit in order to reduce the amount of taxes that must be paid.  How can a company reduce profit and still grow the business by selling more products and making more revenue?  Profit can be reduced by inflating expenses.  How can expenses be inflated?  There are diverse ways, including claiming any personal expenses that can reasonably be justified as company expenses, and claiming investments in new products.

There are many personal use items that can be justified as necessary for a company to develop and sell company products.  Such items may include: cars, cell phones, clothes, lunches, dinners, gym memberships, home help (eg. maids), home maintenance (eg. gardeners, painters), caterers, donations, overseas travel, taxis, overseas hotel costs, tools, furniture, appliances and utility bills.

A company may invest in a new building and new equipment to increase the number of products that can be developed in the future.  However, even though no products have been developed from this investment in the taxable year, the Government allows the company to include this spending in the company’s expenses for that year.  This will significantly reduce the company’s profit, and therefore, the taxes to be paid.

If company expenses balance or exceed revenue, then companies with very high revenues can legally avoid paying taxes for decades.  Since the Government needs revenues to fund social services such as education and health care, then instead of asking companies to share the tax burden, the Government instead increases the tax burden on individuals.

Why is the Government so afraid to fairly tax companies?  One likely reason is that companies have admitted to giving money to political parties’ election campaigns.  Such contributors normally qualify as proverbial pipers.  In the 2013 general election, the BLP candidates reported spending approximately $1.2M and the DLP candidates reported spending over $1M.  The winning candidates spent an average of over $41,000, while the losing candidates spent an average of over $33,000.  Is there a better and more equitable tax policy that is not influenced by the pipers?

Solutions Barbados published its fair tax policies over 2 years ago and they have undergone over 2 years of rigorous public scrutiny.  It is proven that when taxes are low, simple to calculate, easy to pay, and easy to check for compliance, governments normally receive more revenues.  Therefore, corporate tax rates will be reduced to 10%, and applied to revenues with no deductions.

In a Solutions Barbados administration, companies can avoid the wasteful costs and effort required to inflate their expenses to trick the current system, and they will finally be allowed to equitably share the national tax burden.  It will also allow personal income tax rates to be reduced to 10% with no deductions, and VAT and the NSRL to be abolished.

Since Solutions Barbados is not funded by any of those entities who fund the BLP’s and the DLP’s political campaigns, we have no such pipers, and can do what they simply can never do.  This includes implementing policies that can allow Barbadians to finally prosper, rather than simply appearing to.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

House-poor

We have consistently received the same criticism over the past 2 years – we are running too many candidates.  We were then advised that if we wanted to build a political party, then we should focus on 3 to 6 constituencies where one of the established parties had marginal victories.  We were also told that we had to get supporters in each constituency who would demonstrate their commitment by paying membership dues.

We were supposed to attend every community event in the constituency, especially funerals, and out-perform the other candidates.  “Out-perform them? How do I do that?”  I queried.  “If the other candidates attend the church, then you go to the gravesite.  If they do not sing the hymns, then you sing the hymns.  If they sing, then you sing louder.  If they sing loud, then you shed a tear.  If they shed a tear, then you bawl.  If they bawl, then you jump into the grave and hug the coffin.”  I rejected this advice.

I recently attended a funeral of a relative.  While I was escorted to the front of the church with my family, I acknowledged the Parliamentary representative who was seated at the rear of the church.  I bowed my head while prayers were being said.  When I looked up, the Parliamentary representative was seated in the front row.  Perhaps he received similar advice.  However, I already decided that we were not going to play that game.

All of Solutions Barbados’ candidates are aware that we cannot compete with the BLP’s and DLP’s political machinery.  They have been in the communities for decades.  They have attended their constituents’ parties and funerals.  They have provided assistance during tragedies, and guidance to access Government services.  Many of these politicians are loved by voters.  Their photos prominently adorn the voters’ walls, and they are treated as sons and daughters.  We know that we cannot compete against that method of campaigning, and so we will not.

When I appeared on Down to Brasstacks two years ago with Peter Wickham and Hartley Henry, I was asked where we would get the millions needed to mount a political campaign?  “Millions?”  I asked.  “What will we do with millions?”  No one responded.

If any of our candidates give any voter any money, pay any of their bills, make any promises of employment, or do anything that can be construed as attempting to buy their vote, then that candidate will be expelled from Solutions Barbados forthwith.  What we can promise voters is that they will be finally allowed to prosper if they want to, because our policies are specifically designed for that purpose.

Both the BLP’s and DLP’s tax policies are intended to limit consumption.  What this means is that you are taxed so high that you are forced to spend what you earn on what you need, not on what you want.  Therefore, you are kept in a state of perpetual poverty, where you can always barely make it.

Their tax policies are designed to give you an illusion of prosperity because you have a job and accommodation, but their policies are designed to keep you house-poor.  You are to make just enough to pay your rent or mortgage, utility bills and food.  However, you are to struggle to pay for anything else, so that you do not purchase unnecessary imported products which will negatively affect our foreign currency reserves.  Their policies work perfectly if you are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque.

There is a small difference in their policies.  The DLP tended to increase taxes on your income leaving you with less money to spend.  The BLP tended to increase taxes on products, leaving you with less money after spending on your now expensive necessities.  The intended end result was the same, you were to remain in poverty regardless of whether you were renting or paying a mortgage.

The DLP is fast running out of options and has decided to increase taxes on both incomes and products.  There will be weeping and sucking of salt.  However, if voters decide to vote for the BLP’s or the DLP’s policies in the next General Election, then they should prepare their children to suck whatever is left after the salt that they have voted to suck has run out.  It has been described as bitter medicine.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

We Are All Third Parties.

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) have embraced fundamentally different philosophies, or theories of financing the development of Barbados.  Over the past 50 years, each has tightly embraced their philosophy, even when it was clearly not working, convincing themselves that their theory was fundamental to Barbados’ existence.

After our independence, the DLP administration faithfully adhered to a philosophy of generally financing Barbados development through taxation.  This method carried lower financial risks, but restricted the pace of development to what the country could actually afford.  At the end of the DLP administration’s decade (1966 to 1976), Barbados’ debt was a relatively insignificant $259 million, but personal income tax rates were relatively high.

The BLP’s philosophy is that Barbados should finance its development by going into debt.  This method of development carried higher financial risks, but allowed the country to develop at a faster rate.  With development being funded by borrowing, the BLP administration reduced personal income tax rates and received higher revenues.

During the BLP administration’s decade (1976 to 1986), the Central Bank, National Insurance Building in Fairchild Street, ABC highway, Grantley Adams International Airport, General Post Office, and other national projects were built.  However, the country was left $3.1 billion in debt, and Barbados was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance.

The DLP took over the Government in 1986 and struggled with an unstable economy.  Barbados was again forced to go to the IMF for assistance, and taxes were indirectly increased on public workers through salary cuts.  At the end of the DLP administration’s 8 years (1986 to 1994), Barbados’ debt had increased to $4.3 billion.

Once the BLP was elected in 1994, they remained faithful to their philosophy and immediately resumed borrowing until they were voted out in 2008.  However, by that time, they had taken Barbados’ debt to a staggering and unsustainable $9 billion.  The DLP took over the Government in 2008 and immediately increased taxes as directed by their philosophy.  They have not stopped raising taxes to this day.

The DLP and BLP philosophies of development have both helped Barbados develop in a responsible manner for a period of our history.  However, these philosophies have only worked when they were used within specific safe boundaries or limits.  Once those limits was crossed, the philosophies no longer worked, but failed, and their continued use harmed Barbados.  Both the BLP and DLP have allowed their philosophies to strictly govern their actions when their philosophies were no longer relevant.

The safe limit for developing Barbados through borrowing (debt), is that the amount of debt should not exceed 40% of Barbados’ gross domestic product (GDP), or the amount that Barbados makes in one year.  The BLP administration exceeded their philosophy’s operational safe limits in 1997, and despite repeated warnings about their reckless borrowing, they seemed incapable of letting go of their failed philosophy which was harming Barbados.  To this day, they are still bound by their irrelevant philosophy and advocate that Barbados should borrow some more in order to solve our current economic problems.

The safe limit for financing Barbados’ development through taxation is more subjective.  Taxes must be within the capacity and convenience of the individual to pay.  If persons or businesses must go into debt to pay taxes, or if they are inconvenienced to the point where it affects their ability to generate income, then they may avoid paying taxes.

When the Government favours certain groups by reducing their taxes, it inequitably shifts the tax burden onto other groups.  When people start to feel justified in avoiding taxes, then a tipping point has been reached, and increasing taxes will not bring in the projected revenues.  The DLP administration has not realised its projected revenues for several years.  Yet, they stubbornly persist with this now failed philosophy, to the eventual certain ruin of Barbados.

The BLP’s and DLP’s philosophies did initially help Barbados’ development, but their stubborn embracement of them, well after they were relevant, has brought Barbados to the brink of economic ruin.  Their current actions confirm that they are incapable of solving our economic problems.  Since neither of them have ever solved Barbados’ economic problems outside of the boundaries of their philosophies, they are essentially neophytes in the current economic situation.

Solutions Barbados’ guiding principle is to provide an environment where all Barbadian citizens and residents can become healthy, prosperous and educated if they choose to.  Two years ago, Solutions Barbados published workable solutions for rigorous public scrutiny, in order to provide the public with sufficient confidence.  They have also assembled 24 persons who are capable of implementing those solutions.  Barbadians finally have a competent alternative to the two established ‘third parties’.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Governing By Fear or Faith

Some are surprised that the Government has increased taxes in the recent budget.  However this was to be expected since the direction that they are carrying us requires them to keep increasing taxes.  When the DLP administration formed the Government in 2008, they found themselves on an unsustainable economic path, where they had to raise massive revenues to manage the level of debt left by the previous administration.

The DLP had two choices – to govern by faith or by fear.  The DLP could have had faith in us by lowering taxes as Owen Arthur had done, and for which we recommended that he receive a knighthood.  The second was to distrust us and burden us with ever increasing taxes while hoping for a miracle.  The miracle was to be in the form of Government revenues benefitting from a significant improvement in the global financial situation.  The Government chose the latter path.

Since increasing taxes is consistent with governing by fear, we should not be surprised whenever they are raised.  Rather, we should be surprised whenever that are not raised.  The principal problem with the current administration’s economic strategy is that they simply will not listen to good advice.

Two years ago, Solutions Barbados published a tax plan that is workable and fair to all.  VAT has proven to be an unfair and unworkable tax system and will be abolished.  The Government procurement system has been corrupted to the point where is has negatively affected the national economy.  Highly qualified companies are excluded from participating in the national economy whenever the Government gives its favoured companies no-bid contracts.  Those excluded may be challenged to pay taxes and maintain their employees.  Therefore, all taxes owed to Government will be forgiven.

With everyone starting from a clean slate, everyone participating in Barbados’ economy will be required to pay their taxes.  Those businesses who choose not to pay taxes will be competing unfairly in Barbados’ economy.  Therefore, non-payment of taxes will not be tolerated.  Tax avoiders and defaulters will be required to pay a fine of 10 times the unpaid amount.  However, for this system to be fair and workable, taxes must be low, easy to calculate, easy to pay and easy to audit.  The Government will also need additional resources to carry out the necessary audits.

Personal taxes will be reduced to 10% of gross earnings with no deductions.  With deductions eliminated, public workers will no longer pay income tax.  Currently, the private sector pays the Government the taxes owed by public workers.  The Government does not actually give this amount to public workers; instead, public workers get to see the amount on their pay slips, and then see it deducted.  Therefore, what the private sector actually pays for is for Government accounts offices to manage this illusion on 25,000 public workers and their unions.  Those accounting resources will be used to carry out the new audits.

Currently, businesses pay corporate taxes on their net profits.  With this current system, it is possible to run a successful business for decades without paying any taxes.  Our plan is to close this loophole by reducing corporate taxes to 10% on gross revenues with no deductions.

Businesses with high net profits are expected to pay the corporate tax out of their profits.  Therefore, the price of their products should not increase.  Businesses with no net profits are expected to add the tax to the cost of their products.  Business with marginal net profits are expected to use a combination of the methods described above.

The obvious question is, what prevents businesses with high net profits to protect those profits and add the tax to the cost of their products?  The answer is that the market normally punishes such greed, since their products will be more expensive than their competitors.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Last Straw

After persons are incrementally burdened, there comes a time when the last load causes a severe reaction.  The last load may be relatively light and insignificant, but if it is the proverbial last straw, the entire load may be rejected by the burdened.

A woman may be ill-treated for decades, and may appear to put up with it.  But one day, a relatively minor incident may be the catalyst for the woman to leave the relationship.  The man may wonder why such a drastic step was taken for such a relatively minor incident.  However, he should consider the cumulative effect of the previous loads.  A wise man would start gingerly removing those previous loads.

Employees may put up with years of ill-treatment by incompetent managers.  But one day, after a relatively minor incident that could be easily resolved, the workers may decide to strike en-mass.  The last minor incident was simply the last straw for them.

The Employer may win the public relations battle in identifying the relatively minor nature of the “last straw” incident.  However, to actually resolve the problem, all past ‘loads’ need to be addressed.  Just addressing the final straw only delays the inevitable industrial action.  As the largest employer, the Government should move with haste to improve the management of Government departments and statutory corporations in order to avoid that last straw.  The international quality management standard, ISO 9001, should be implemented with dispatch.

Approximately 9 years ago, the Government increased the annual registration fee for me to practise engineering in Barbados from $500 to $2,500, and I had no choice but to pay it.  Then the Government increased VAT, and I had no choice but to pay the increased tax.  They also applied a Consolidation tax to my income tax, and I had no choice but to pay that also.

The Government then burdened me with a solid waste tax, and I thought that that tax was the last straw.  However, they introduced a tax clearance certificate which I had to obtain in order to participate in the national economy, so I had no choice but to pay the solid waste tax.  They have now invented a National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), and I will have no choice but to pay that too.  It is amazing at how resilient some Barbadians can be.  However, not all are so resilient.

The Government determined that more revenues were required.  So they increased taxes on all of us in an equitable manner.  Then some sectors decided that the tax increase was the last straw for them.  Whenever the tourism sector, international business sector, or any other sector of the economy decide that a tax is their last straw, then what they are actually saying is that the Government must remove the tax burden from them, and place it on the rest of us.  The unions are now claiming that the NSRL is their last straw.

I shop at stores that are conveniently located on my travelling routes.   I noticed the cost of items increasing, but I can do little to change that, so I pay for the items without complaining.  However, I have an understanding with these stores.  They bag my goods and I walk around with their bags and advertise their stores.  I do not mind advertising the stores that I patronize, because I normally patronise stores where I feel that I am getting value for the money that I spend.

I recently went into a supermarket, and after the cashier totalled the items that I intended to purchase, the cashier asked whether I wanted to purchase a plastic bag for 15 cents.  I could easily afford the 15 cents, but why charge me to advertise their store?

Then I saw my checked-out groceries laying unbagged on the cashier’s counter, and they were too numerous for me to carry out of the store in my hands.  I recalled the past 9 years of being forced to pay not only my taxes, but the taxes of those sectors who “Government relief”.  To now have this store, which has already included the cost of the plastic bags in the products, to try to force me to pay for the plastic bag that I have already paid for was my last straw.

I paid for the items, but I realised that I did have a choice and I made it.  I decided to never patronize that supermarket for the rest of my life.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com