As Guyana inches closer to its destiny of becoming an oil producer, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia, has observed an increase in requests for Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs).
GRA Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia
During a recent interview, Statia said there has been a rush by countries for these agreements to ensure
that their citizens, who invest in Guyana, are not made to pay GRA taxes on their income.
“But my philosophy is if you mek it hay, yuh must pay it hay. Simple as that!” the tax chief said while noting that the revenue earning body is being extremely cautious about signing onto such agreements.
He told Kaieteur News, “My belief is that such DTAs don’t work. It is skewed in favour of the developed nations hence the flurry of requests for them is being cautiously reviewed. I strongly believe that income should be taxed at source…”
Statia also stressed that his position on this has been constant. A more detailed presentation on his views in this regard, was shared with several of the nation’s leading accountants and tax advisors.
He said that this was done some months ago at a workshop that was facilitated by Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.
In the presentation he shared with Kaieteur News, Statia noted that indeed, Double Taxation Agreements vary by country, but in the end, it is simply designed to favour one country over another.
Guyana has several such agreements, he said, with nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom. But the advent of oil seems to have awakened a raging appetite for more of these agreements.
The tax chief said that many countries, all of them more developed than Guyana, have approached the Guyana Government with a view to negotiating these deals. For someone actively involved in their negotiations, he said that GRA is cautious for “very good reasons.”
Statia said, “A key aim of a double taxation agreement is to prevent the same income from getting taxed twice. However, as a negotiator, I have found that in practice, this has led to a world of widespread double non-taxation – that is, where income effectively gets taxed nowhere, and allows for tax evasion and avoidance…”
The GRA Boss said that at the end of the day, the revenue authority’s only aim is to do what is best for the country while noting that it will continue to ensure that such agreements do not leave Guyana in a disadvantageous position.
Towards this end, this newspaper understands that GRA has written the United Kingdom and Canada to renegotiate two taxation agreements.
Statia noted that proposed updates for these agreements are expected to reflect “the changing times.”