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EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017

Read our commentary on the Trinidad and Tobago budgetary measures delivered by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mr. Colm Imbert, in Parliament on 30 September 2016, available online at

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EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017

  1. 1. EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 Caveat The Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 is based on the Economic Policy Statement, entitled Shaping a Better Future: A Blueprint for Transformation and Growth, delivered by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mr. Colm Imbert, in Parliament on 30 September 2016. This review summary was prepared by Ernst & Young and is intended for the benefit of our clients and associates as a general guide. Readers are encouraged to consult with professional advisors for advice concerning specific legal, accounting or tax matters before making any decision. This publication is distributed with the understanding that Ernst & Young Services Ltd. or any other member of the Global Ernst & Young organization is not responsible for the result of any actions taken on the basis of this publication, nor for any errors or omissions contained herein. Ernst & Young Services Limited 5/7 Sweet Briar Road St. Clair, Port of Spain Trinidad, W.I. Tel.: (868) 628-1105 Fax: (868) 622-0918 Email: Website: 30 September 2016 Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017
  2. 2. EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 1 Table of contents Chairman’s message..............................................................................1 Executive overview................................................................................2 2017 fiscal measures.............................................................................5 Income tax computation comparative...................................................16 Energy sector review...........................................................................18 Insurance bill.......................................................................................20 FATCA.................................................................................................22 Analysis of tax revenues .....................................................................26 Analysis of recurrent government expenditure.....................................28 Status of fiscal measures 2016............................................................30 Guyana - New prospect........................................................................34 Despite the economic challenges faced by Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) and other oil and energy producing nations, we are steadfastly optimistic and strongly believe that this country can implement measures in the short to medium term that will lead to sustainable economic growth in the future. To achieve stability, the government’s policy framework should consider the following: 1. How to manage the country’s current spending levels over the medium term. 2. How to increase the country’s capacity to grow and broaden the country’s tax revenue base. 3. How to prioritize capital outlays and develop an industrial policy with a focus on private sector led investment and diversification efforts. 4. How to create stronger institutions and create a better enabling environment. The government is, however, faced with the immediate task of reducing expenditure against a backdrop of declining energy revenues and a weakening fiscal position, as well as significant pressure being exerted on the country’s foreign exchange reserve position. In the long term, we look forward to the development of the Vision 2030 plan, which we assume will be focused on achieving economic diversification and the development of new industries and sources of economic activity. To improve our economic fortunes, tough decisions will have to be made in the short term and we must all be prepared to bear our fair share of this adjustment. We are, however, confident that with the right focus and execution, T&T will emerge stronger, with a stable and diversified economy going forward. We thank you all and we welcome your feedback. Colin Soo Ping Chow Executive Chairman EY Caribbean Ltd. Chairman’s Message
  3. 3. 2 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 3 “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” Tony Robbins Taking Charge of Our Future Although the economy is in the midst of an energy led recession, on the anniversary of his first year in office, the Honourable Minister of Finance was able to boast that the country’s economic vital statistics as measured by our import cover, debt to GDP, and unemployment rates remain relatively resilient compared to our developing country peers and other oil producing nations. Indeed, as evidence of growing confidence in the prudent financial management of the government, the Minister pointed to the significant oversubscription of the country’s largest foreign currency debt offering of US$1b. At the same time, the Minister was at pains to point out to the population that the combined impact of the significant fall in oil prices, reduced oil and gas production and the result of exploration related tax incentives, has led to an unprecedented decline in energy revenues. To provide some colour, the Minister stipulated that the fall off in current revenues, between 2014 and 2016, was in the order of TT$20b. A gap of this size represents a tremendous shock to the system, which underscores the vulnerability of our nation state to energy price fluctuation and our reliance on energy revenues generally. In the circumstances, it seems trite to recant our energy reliance and the need for greater economic diversification. The question is what measures can be adopted to redress our deteriorating economic fortunes. On the revenue side, there are perhaps a handful of major decisions that remain within our circle of influence. At the forefront is the need to continue work on reversing the decline in our oil and gas production, as well as stemming the curtailment of natural gas supplies to the down-stream and mid-stream sectors. To achieve this, there is a need to encourage new and existing energy players to choose T&T for investment over competing options. This, in turn, requires a careful balance to be struck between investor considerations and the needs of the government to procure fair and stable returns on behalf of its citizens. On this score, the Minister indicated that a technical study on the reform of the oil and gas regime was embarked upon by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the results of the analysis are being actively considered by the government and discussed with stakeholders. Also of relevance to the encouragement of new investment would be the request by the energy companies for greater control over the allocation of their production. The announcement of the implementation of transfer pricing legislation will go a long way in ensuring that the correct arm’s Executive Overview length profits of these multinationals are allocated, recognized and taxed in T&T, thereby bolstering the revenues of the State. Another critical success factor is the government’s efforts to obtain cooperation from our South American neighbor, Venezuela, on accessing its natural gas fields. Discussions have commenced on an initiative for Venezuela to supply natural gas to the country via its Dragon Field, which reportedly has an estimated 2.6tcf of gas and is wholly located within Venezuelan territorial waters. In addition, the Minister alluded to ongoing plans around the formation of a consortium to monetize the Loran-Manatee, a cross-border gas field, which has up to 10.25tcf in estimated gas reserves. These arrangements are game changing in nature and can help secure a long-term supply of natural gas with the potential to revitalize the energy down- stream and mid-stream sectors of the country. Notwithstanding, these discussions are wrought with risk, especially considering the low visibility around the viability of the Maduro regime and the aggressive stance the Republic of Venezuela has taken in its border dispute with our Caricom sister territory, Guyana. In the shorter term, it was encouraging to hear that the government is intent on expeditiously executing its planned sale of its interest in First Citizens, Trinidad & Tobago NGL Limited (TTNGL) and Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU). These asset sales will not only serve the purpose of generating alternative sources of much needed revenue, but should also reduce the role of the state in enterprises that can, and arguably, should be in private ownership at this stage of our national development. The tax measures announced by the Minister, such as the reintroduction of the regime around Property Tax, the implementation of the tax on online purchases, and so called “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol, will initially have modest revenue generation impact. Nevertheless, these imposts will help to stem the level of fiscal deficits, produce sustainable sources of tax collections and introduce greater participation of the national community in contributing to the Treasury. Of greater impact on the business community is the planned increase in individual and corporation tax on chargeable income over $1m, which is estimated to raise revenues in the region of $560m. Revenues aside, it is also incumbent upon us as a country to recognize that major curbs ought to be placed on our level of spending. In terms of significance, our most material outlay falls under the broad category of “transfers and subsidies”, which has ballooned to average around $31b over the past decade, thereby accounting for over 50% of government expenditure. It was therefore unsurprising to hear the Minister announce a further reduction in the diesel subsidy as a further step towards the potential eventual free floatation of gasoline and diesel prices. It was also heartening to hear the Minister acknowledge that the government must work to make state enterprises more financially independent as the state can no longer afford to intervene and protect the entire population from the true cost of public services.
  4. 4. 4 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 5 2017 fiscal measures The Minister of Finance has proposed the introduction of a new tax bracket of 30% on high income individuals whose chargeable income exceeds $1m per annum, as well as a new tax bracket on companies with chargeable profits also in excess of $1m per annum with effect from 1 January 2017. The measure is expected to generate an additional $560m in tax revenue from high income individuals and businesses. The impact of this measure is analyzed hereunder. Impact to Individuals As stated above, individuals whose chargeable income exceeds TT$1m will be liable to tax on the incremental amount at the rate of 30%. As such, the first $1m of chargeable income will be taxed at the rate of 25% and any amount in excess of $1m will be taxed at the rate of 30%. The following reflects the tax rates for T&T from income year 2000 to present: • Income Years 2000 to 2002 – Chargeable Income up to TT$50K - 28% – Chargeable Income over TT$50K - 35% • Income Years 2003 to 2005 – Chargeable Income up to TT$50K - 25% – Chargeable Income over TT$50K - 30% • Income Years 2006 to 2016 – All Chargeable Income - 25% • Income Year 2017 (Proposed) – Chargeable Income up to TT$1m - 25% – Chargeable Income over TT$1m - 30% Impact to Companies The current Corporation Tax rates in T&T are as follows: Basic Corporation Rate 25% Petrochemical Companies1 Rate 35% Approved Small Company 0% (Exempt from tax for five years) SME Listed Company 10% (First five years from the listing on the TTSE) Long-Term Life Insurance Companies (Investment income derived from the Capital Fund) 15% (Transfer to shareholder’s account) 25% New Tax Brackets 1 Applies to companies involved in the liquefaction of natural gas, manufacture of petrochemicals, physical separation of liquids from a natural gas stream, transmission and distribution of natural gas, wholesale marketing and distribution of petroleum products (as defined) and any other activity so prescribed. It does not include companies operating a liquid petroleum gas filling plant or conducting a refilling operation, involved in the sale and distribution of leaded and unleaded gasoline, diesel and kerosene lubricants and other car care products or operating service stations. An area that the Minister admitted was sacrificed over the last financial year was capital expenditure on public sector work projects. This is not a desirable outcome as it is counter-stimulative. More importantly improvements in roads, schools, hospitals and other essential facilities are critical for the long term social and economic well- being of our society. It was, therefore, refreshing to hear the Minister acknowledge that such projects do not have to be exclusively undertaken by the State. They can undoubtedly be better managed via Public Private Partnerships and it was gratifying to understand that this will not only be the preferred modus operandi of the government in the future, but also that the government is intent on rewarding such partnerships with tax incentives. T&T may be a fortunate beneficiary of OPEC’s recently announced resolve to work towards cutting crude production by up to 700,000bopd. Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s agreement to this shift in policy manifests the devastating impact the precipitous fall in energy prices has had on its economy and that of other oil producing nations. As a petroleum price-taker, we can do nothing to influence global prices. In this regard, we all look forward to better understanding the government’s Vision 2030 plan and collaborating with our country’s leaders in making the necessary fiscal adjustments with a view to reshaping our collective future. Wade George Tax Director Gregory Hannays Tax Director
  5. 5. 6 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 7 Our readers may recall that during the presentation of the 2015/2016 National Budget, the Minister of Finance signaled his intention not to extend the waiver of Property Taxes beyond 31 December 2015 and to enforce collection from 1 January 2016 using the old levels and rates as a starting point. In his 2017 National Budget presentation the Minister indicated that he was advised that it would be unconstitutional to collect property taxes using the old rates, since different rates applied in different areas of T&T. The Minister has announced that the existing Property Tax Act would be put into full effect in fiscal year 2017 with the population of the valuations roll and minor amendments to the Valuation of Land Act. In addition, he stated that under the Valuation of Land Act every owner is required to submit a return, which will be used by the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to calculate the annual rental value of the property, failing which the Valuation Division would prepare its own assessment. The Valuation of Land Act as it stands required that owners submit a return in the form prescribed by 1 April 2010. The penalty under the existing legislation is TT$500 on summary conviction. This provision would have to be updated and it may be one of the amendments to which the Minister alluded. We have provided below a brief overview of the provisions contained in the Property Tax Act. Industrial Rate: 6% (Housed in a Building)/3% (Not Housed in a Building) Basis: Annual Taxable Value (ATV) ATV: 6% of installed cost of plant, machinery and associated buildings With respect to industrial properties, the ATV is to be calculated based upon the installed cost of machinery, plant and associated buildings minus a depreciation factor calculated by the Valuation Division. The depreciation factor is expected to take into consideration real declines in productivity and efficiency of the machinery and plant and has no reference to the accounting depreciation. All immovable plant and machinery would otherwise be assessed to tax whether or not housed within a building. Certain buildings that are not specialized (including warehouses or factory shells not adapted for special use of a particular industry) to be taxed on ATV based upon the annual rental value (see Commercial Property Tax). Commercial Rate: 5% Basis: ATV Property Tax It should be noted that companies in the Petroleum sector are subject to tax under a separate tax regime. Historically, the basic Corporation Tax rate in T&T was as follows: Income Years Corporation Tax Rate 2000 to 2002 35% 2003 to 2005 30% 2006 to 2015 25% In relation to other Caribbean territories, see the table below for details on the current rates of Corporation Tax. Country Corporation Tax Rate Barbados 25%/15% (Note 1) Jamaica 25%/30%/33.3% (Note 2) Guyana 30%/40%/45% (Note 3) St. Lucia 30% St. Kitts 33% Antigua & Barbuda 25%/22.5% (Note 4) Dominica 25% St. Vincent & the Grenadines 32.5% Notes: 1. Barbados - A 15% rate applies to manufacturing companies and to net income derived from the rental of residential property. 2. Jamaica - Unregulated companies are taxed at the rate of 25% and regulated companies (excluding life insurance companies) are taxed at a rate of 33.3%. Building societies are taxed at a rate of 30%. 3. Guyana - Non-commercial companies are subject to tax at a rate of 30% whereas commercial companies (as defined) are subject to tax at a rate of 40%. Companies engaged in the business of telecommunications are subject to tax at the rate of 45%. 4. Antigua & Barbuda - Banks which offer mortgages at a rate of 7% or below are subject to tax at the rate of 22.5%. As illustrated above, the basic Corporation Tax rate in T&T has remained at 25% from income year 2006 to present. From a Pan-Caribbean perspective, the new tax bracket of 30% is still competitive relative to the tax rates in other Caribbean territories.
  6. 6. 8 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 9 It is hoped that the introduction of transfer pricing rules would see the repeal of the arbitrary 2% management charge restriction so that unreasonable charges would now be more appropriately disallowed under accepted transfer pricing methodology. Conversely, all reasonable charges based on arm’s length principles would be fully deductible. We note that transfer pricing legislation was promised as far back as the Budget Statement of October 2011. To date, however, little progress appears to have been made in implementing such legislation. In this regard, the OECD has estimated that worldwide revenue losses from abusive pricing practices are between 4%-10% of global corporate income tax revenues. Given our present economic circumstances, we can ill afford to lose such revenues and it is hoped that the long promised transfer pricing legislation will be finally enacted as a matter of priority. The Minister proposed that foreign yacht repair services be exempt from VAT for yacht owners with effect from the first quarter of 2017. Prior to the 2016 amendments to Schedule 2 of the VAT Act, such repairs were classified as zero rated supplies for VAT purposes. Effective 1 February 2016, repair services became standard rated. As a consequence of the proposed exemption on such services, VAT registered suppliers would not be able to recover the input VAT incurred in the making of the exempt yacht repair service. In keeping with the government’s intention to move towards the elimination of the burden of the fuel subsidy, the Minister proposes to increase the current market price of diesel by 15%, from $1.98 per litre to $2.30 per litre. The change in price will take effect immediately. It should be noted that the price of diesel was previously increased in September 2015 and April 2016 from $1.50 to $1.72 and from $1.72 to $1.98 respectively, an increase of 15% in both cases. Given current oil prices, the impact of the fuel subsidy has been significantly reduced. Notwithstanding the positive impact of this measure on the government’s budget, the increase in the price of diesel may result in inflationary effects, primarily on transportation costs to both individuals and businesses. Moreover, businesses may seek to pass on their increased costs to consumers translating to higher prices for goods and services. Valued Added Tax ATV: For commercial properties, the ATV is determined by reference to the annual rent income expected to be earned from the property less 10% (for the average time the property may not be rented). Agricultural Rate: 1% Basis: 2% of capital value of lands and agricultural buildings ATV: The capital value means the sum which the fee simple might be expected to realize if offered for sale on such reasonable terms and conditions as a bona fide seller would require Residential Rate: 3% Basis: ATV ATV: The ATV is determined by reference to the annual rental income expected to be earned from the property less 10% (for the average time the property may not be rented). Previous pronouncements by the MoF indicated that the ATV is the expected annual rent to be obtained from T&T resident tenants and, as such, rental rates expected to be obtained from expatriate tenants would not form the basis for assessments. The Minister only referred to residential properties and made no mention of the property taxes that are currently included in the Property Tax Act that would apply to industrial, commercial and agricultural properties. The Minister indicated that the government had engaged the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrators to work on a policy and legislation to govern transfer pricing. Pending comprehensive legislation, he further indicated that the government had engaged with a transfer pricing consultant to assist in formulating an arm’s length pricing framework as part of its negotiations with Atlantic LNG. Transfer pricing rules seek to prevent pricing manipulation between related parties in order to achieve a tax advantage. These rules achieve their purpose by treating related parties as if they were independent entities so as to ensure that the prices charged between them accord with the arm’s length principle. Transfer pricing in T&T must also be viewed in the context of the current tax legislation framework. We note that the Income Tax Act arbitrarily restricts the deduction of management charges paid to non-residents to 2% of all out goings and expenses (exclusive of such management charges and capital allowances). In this regard, the definition of “management charges” was expanded in 2006 to include personal and technical services, as well as the allocation of head office costs. As presently worded, the management charge restriction disallows legitimate charges incurred for the purposes of the business. Transfer Pricing Fuel Subsidy
  7. 7. 10 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 11 The Finance (No. 2) Act, 2016 enacted the multi-family dwelling tax incentive, which provides that the gains or profits from the initial sale, or premiums and rents derived from the letting of a newly constructed multi-family dwelling, construction of which commenced on or after 1 July 2016, will be exempt from income tax until the year ending 31 December 2025. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no regulations were subsequently passed allowing investors access to this incentive. The Finance (No.2) Act, 2016 did not provide a definition of the term multi-family dwelling. In the presentation, the Minister proposed to introduce regulation allowing access to the multi-family dwelling tax incentive. The aforementioned tax incentives are aimed at promoting and encouraging investment in the development of public infrastructure. In the absence of a definition of “multi-family dwelling”, there appears to be no distinction from the term ‘house’ embedded in the current housing tax incentives. We will await further clarification on the process of claiming the multi-family dwelling tax incentive. The Minister is proposing to stimulate the local agricultural sector by introducing an incentive whereby all agro-processing operations will be tax free. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries will be responsible for the certification process. In order to qualify for the tax relief, the following criteria would have to be met: • At least 75% of the processing of agricultural products must be done in T&T; and • 75% of the ingredients must be produced or harvested locally. We await the passage of the legislation to provide further clarity on what constitutes “agro-processing”. It is noteworthy that successive governments have introduced tax incentives for various sectors of the economy that have been ineffective due to the bureaucracy encountered by companies seeking to take advantage of the tax incentives. It is therefore imperative that the certification process is not rendered inaccessible due to unduly cumbersome procedures. T&T’s food import bill has been the subject of much concern to the government. With that being said, the implementation of direct tax incentives offered to the Agricultural sector have been scarce over the last few years. The 2017 Budget proposes to increase the excise duty on locally-manufactured tobacco and tobacco imported from the Common Markets by 15% effective 20 October 2016. Similarly, the excise duty on locally-manufactured alcohol and alcohol imported from the Common Markets is proposed to increase by 20% effective 20 October 2016. The current excise rates vary for beers, wines and spirts. For alcoholic beverages and tobacco products imported into T&T from extra- regional sources, customs duty will be adjusted to receive equal treatment to that of the Common Market. The Minister has signaled the government’s intent to enact, in 2017, The Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2016, which was first introduced and read in the House of Representatives on 1 July 2016. The Gaming legislation is geared towards leveraging every potential source of tax revenue and creating an environment conducive to the generation of quality, sustainable jobs. The legislation is additionally intended to redress an industry which is currently loosely regulated and the associated negative social effects. The 2016 Bill seeks to establish a License Regime with a comprehensive, robust and stringent regulatory framework, which will curtail fraudulent acts of money laundering and terrorism financing, and meet globally recommended standards required by the Financial Action Task Force and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. In the 2017 Budget Speech, the Minister re-introduced the concept of the 7% levy on goods purchased online from non-resident vendors. This levy as proposed will only be applicable on the purchases that enter T&T via courier companies or air freight. The levy will be due and payable at the bonded warehouses before clearance of goods or directly to customs, similar to the manner in which VAT and customs duty are currently collected. The effective date for implementation of this levy is 20 October 2016. Tax on Online Purchases Alcohol and Tobacco Gaming Housing-Infrastructure Development Agro-Processing Tax Relief
  8. 8. 12 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 13 The Minister is proposing to dispose of the following assets to generate approximately TT$4.1b: Asset Percentage of Shareholding to be sold Expected Revenue TT$ The National Gas Company’s shareholding in Trinidad & Tobago NGL Limited (TTNGL) 51% 1.5b The Government of Trinidad & Tobago’s shareholding in First Citizens Holdings Limited 20% 1.5b Industrial estates under the remit of Evolving Technologies Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) 50% 500m Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU) to institutional investors, such as National Insurance Board and Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation 20% 600m Special arrangements will be put in place for the existing shareholders of TTNGL and First Citizens Holdings Limited to access the IPOs. The Minister also indicated that the government intends to pursue the partial divestment of Lake Asphalt to an International Strategic Partner who can successfully market the natural asphalt and diversify Lake Asphalt’s product line. This is expected to increase production volumes, monetize the product and increase employment, particularly in the La Brea area. This initiative is scheduled for 2017. The Minister proposed the introduction of an integrated Revenue Authority (RA) as well as other measures, as needed, to improve tax administration. The Minister expects to complete the legislative requirements in Parliament for the establishment of the RA in the second quarter of the Fiscal Year 2017. The Minister has proposed to assist the less fortunate by exempting persons whose monthly electricity bill is $400 or less from the first $100 in electricity charges. We note that the Minister has stated that the Government will bear the difference in charges in an arrangement with T&TEC. This measure will take effect from 1 December 2016. In an effort to stimulate creativity and innovation in business, an Entrepreneurial Talent Grant has been proposed. The Minister has indicated that citizens will be invited and encouraged to participate in a national competition by presenting innovative business concepts, for evaluation by a panel of experienced businessmen and entrepreneurs. Every year, the top five projects will receive a $1m grant to facilitate the development and implementation of their business concepts. With a view to mobilizing private sector funding within the public sector, the Minister has proposed to institute during 2017 tax reliefs and fiscal incentives for Public Private Partnerships (PPP). A PPP is a contractual arrangement between a public agency and a private sector entity. Through this agreement, the skills and assets of each sector (public and private) are shared in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public. The government will provide 50% tax relief and other fiscal incentives to businesses which can provide public infrastructure and/or public facilities, amenities and services which are currently provided exclusively by the government. Additionally, projects which increase productivity and create meaningful employment will also be considered for inclusion. The government will provide a Clearing House to evaluate proposals from the private sector. Pursuant to this initiative, the Minister has indicated that the government would, in particular, be inviting proposals from the private sector for the management, operation and maintenance of the Couva Hospital and Training Facility. Electricity Relief Entrepreneurial Talent Grant Public Private Partnership (PPP) Business Tax Relief Sale of Assets
  9. 9. 14 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 15 which exist in the current system. However, there are a number of problems that can be resolved without the implementation of an RA. The RA should be able to address: • Human resource management problems: • With semi-autonomous powers, the RA should have the ability to implement a human resource management function, which (at least in theory) should facilitate effective recruitment and selection of appropriate personnel, career planning, promotion and advancement, learning and growth and development. • Effective performance management systems could be implemented, which would reward/discipline staff based on performance. • As employees of the RA would not fall under the Public Service Commission, their remuneration would be determined by the RA. In this regard, remuneration of tax administration employees can better reflect market compensation. • Less than exemplary customer service may be addressed by both training and development and evaluation by way of a performance management system. • Accountability of Management • The RA would allow for tax administration to be supervised by an independent board, which should be responsible for introducing high quality and accountable management. Is it expected that the RA would come into existence? • The Trinidad & Tobago Revenue Authority Bill 2010 was piloted through Parliament by the former PNM administration. However, the Bill, which required a three-fifths special majority to pass, was not supported by the Opposition or Independents in the Upper House. • We understand that the requirement for a three-fifths special majority is mandatory as the formation of the RA affects the rights of the public servant under Section 4 “Recognition and declaration of rights and freedoms” and Section 5 “Protection of rights and freedoms” of the Constitution of T&T. • It is uncertain whether the government can achieve the required three- fifths special majority that is required to pass the Bill. The Minister also stated that the RA will allow for greater sharing of information between the BIR and the Customs and Excise Division (C&E), which is needed to reduce the incidents of tax evasion. The new institution will also allow for tax administration to be supervised by an independent board, which will be responsible for introducing high quality and accountable management. What is an RA? • An RA is simply a term used to describe a governance regime for an organization engaged in revenue administration, where the regime provides for more autonomy than that afforded a normal department in a Ministry. • The RA would result in the integration of C&E and the BIR into a semi- autonomous body, which will be responsible for the administration and enforcement of the revenue law in T&T, as well as the collection of taxes. What are the problems with the existing systems? • The BIR currently lacks robust human resources and management systems, resulting in: • An inability to retain competent staff within the tax system. • A heavy reliance on external bodies to provide funding (MoF) and perform the vital talent recruitment function (Public Service Commission). • Inadequate management capability and training. • Inadequate staff development and training. • Inadequate supervision of staff. • Lack of accountability of management of the tax administration to the MoF. • Sub-optimal communication and data exchange among the existing revenue divisions. • Less than exemplary customer service. • Low effectiveness of tax administration and reduced levels of compliance. • A perception that the function and purpose of the C&E and the BIR differs significantly and, in this regard, should not be integrated. Would the implementation of an RA resolve the problems in the existing system? The implementation of an RA may resolve some of the above-mentioned problems, Revenue Authority
  10. 10. 16 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 Income Tax Computation Comparative Can fine-tuning your financial processes help accelerate your growth? EY can provide high quality audit services that will help you move from challenger to leader. #BetterQuestions No proposed change for individuals earning less than $1m. Note 1 Personal Allowance for residents increased to TT$72,000. Effective 1 January 2016. Note 2 Tax Allowance limited to $25,000 per household in the year of income for first time homeowners for five years including those years utilized by existing beneficiaries. Effective 1 January 2015. Note 3 Maximum allowance per household is $60,000 (i.e. spouses must share allowance). Note 4 Maximum allowance granted for contribution to Approved Annuities/ Pension Plans and 70% of NIS Payments is $50,000. Effective 1 January 2015. Note 5 Tax Deduction equal to the amount of donation, up to a maximum of 15% of the individual’s total income in an income year. The Income Tax Act (ITA) defines total income as the aggregate amount of income of a person before making any deductions for expenses or allowances. Note 6 Chargeable income up to $1m will be taxed at 25%. Effective 1 January 2017. Note 7 Chargeable income in excess of $1m will be taxed at 30%. Effective 1 January 2017. High Income Earner 2017 2016 Income from Employment 1,500,000 1,500,000 Less: Personal Allowance - (Note 1) (72,000) (72,000) Deduction for First Time Acquisition of House - (Note 2) (25,000) (25,000) Tertiary Education (Extra- Regional) - (Note 3) (60,000) (60,000) Deduction for Approved Annuity/ Pension Plan and NIS - (Note 4) (50,000) (50,000) Covenanted Donations - (Note 5) (5,000) (5,000) Chargeable Income 1,288,000 1,288,000 Income Tax @ 25% - (Note 6) 250,000 322,000 Income Tax @ 30% - (Note 7) 86,400 - Total Tax Liability 336,400 322,000 With regard to high income individuals, the following table highlights the impact of the proposed increase in the tax rate:
  11. 11. 18 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 19 Evidentially, there are diametrically opposing views as to the role and extent that tax incentives should play in enticing investments in this sector, particularly the upstream sector, between this administration and the last. The former administration amended the fiscal regime governing the upstream petroleum sector with effect from the 1 January 2014 (and expiring on 31 December 2017) to allow for, inter alia: • the immediate write off of 100% of the capital expenditure on exploration operations; and • the accelerated claims of capital allowances in respect of tangible and intangible drilling and development costs. Such measures were deemed essential and the representatives of the energy companies heralded praise and gave firm commitments to reinitiate investments in their respective drilling programs. These pledges were upheld and the much needed natural gas production resulting therefrom is expected to come onstream in the third quarter of calendar year 2016 and the first quarter of calendar year 2017. This incremental supply of natural gas is seen by industry experts, along with the downstream operators, as vital in addressing, in part, the supply curtailment issue. Recognizing the stark contrast in the hydrocarbon price environment prevailing at the time the legislative amendments were enacted, the current administration has second guessed the efficacy of these measures on the basis that the application of same by the upstream producers has, in no small way, reduced the tax liabilities of these taxpayers. Striking the balance between providing incentives for investments in the energy sector specific to exploration and development and preserving a respectable revenue basis for the country is at the heart of this debate. The Minister placed great emphasis on the current efforts of the Administration to supplement natural gas supply through dialogue with our neighbor, Venezuela, for cross-border supply from the Dragon Field and the unitization of the cross-border Loran-Manatee Field. In addition, the Minister revealed that he engaged the technical assistance of the IMF and they have made the following recommendations: • The fiscal regime must incorporate a balance among objectives, in ensuring that it seeks to promote investment by reducing the fiscal burden of projects of low profitability, while assuring the public that the extraction of the country’s natural resources always results in some minimum payment. Moreover, where a petroleum project generates a surplus over the total cost of production, including profit necessary for initial and continuing investment, the government should share substantially in that surplus. • Government should also attach priority to a degree of stability in petroleum revenue flows, just as petroleum companies attach a high value to the stability and predictability of fiscal terms and conditions. • Reform of the oil and gas fiscal regime should provide terms attractive for investment, while securing a substantial share of rents for the government. A shift of the tax base towards profits and cash flows rather than gross production or revenue, thereby aligning mutual interests. In summary, the IMF has recommended a moderate fixed rate royalty, to ensure a minimum revenue stream, a cash flow tax that replaces the Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT), together with a reduced Petroleum Profits Tax rate and a streamlining of capital allowance rates. While the IMF recommendations were not articulated with the requisite specificity during his presentation for meaningful analysis, it is important that the interests of the government and the energy companies be aligned (and not viewed as competing) at this time. This quagmire, together with the imminent re-negotiations of natural gas supply contracts, can only be resolved through the implementation of a holistic natural gas master plan, which is developed by all parties involved. Given that the budgeted revenue for fiscal year 2017 is predicated on a crude oil price of US$48 per barrel and a natural gas price of US$2.25 per mmbtu, we all would agree that the Minister has no easy task overseeing the stewardship of the country’s finances at this time. His efforts to achieve success, however, ought to be balanced with the imperatives of the entire energy sector, upon which the economy has historically disproportionately relied. Energy sector review
  12. 12. 20 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 21 The Minister stated that the intention of the Insurance Bill, 2016 is to strengthen the regulatory remit for insurance companies and pension funds. He emphasized that, other than a date change to the Insurance Bill, 2016, the same Bill was sent to a Joint Select Committee (who also had no changes) by the former government and, as such, it is the Minister’s expectation that this long overdue legislation will receive the support of the Opposition in 2017. The current Insurance Act requires companies that carry on long-term life insurance business (life insurance, pension, personal accidents, annuities and other classes of life insurance business as defined under the Insurance Act) to maintain assets in their Statutory Fund to cover liabilities and protect policyholders. The long term life insurance business of an insurance company is currently taxed as follows: (i) Gains or profits derived from investments in the Statutory Fund – 15% (ii) Profits of the Statutory Fund transferred to the shareholder’s account – 25% The enactment of the Insurance Bill, 2016 will replace the current concept of the Statutory Fund with risk related capital adequacy requirements, which could significantly increase the capital held by insurance companies in order to protect the interests of policyholders. With the removal of the Statutory Fund, the methodology for determining taxes due on the long term life insurance business will need to be re-designed. The Insurance Bill The better the question. The better the answer. The better the world works.
  13. 13. 22 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 23 The Minister reported that the US Treasury informed the government of T&T that because it: (i) signed the intergovernmental agreement; (ii) demonstrated firm resolve to achieve compliance by seeking to enact the necessary governing legislation; and (iii) submitted a detailed plan of action to achieve compliance with FATCA, the country is considered to have an exchange of information agreement “in effect” with the US and, as such, would not be subject to any immediate sanctions for not meeting the FATCA reporting deadline of 30 September 2016. For the benefit of our readers we address some frequently asked questions concerning FATCA below: What is FATCA? FATCA is a US law aimed at foreign (non-US) financial institutions (FFIs) and other financial intermediaries to prevent tax evasion by US citizens and residents through the use of offshore accounts. What is an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) and why did T&T sign it? An IGA is an agreement between the US and another country, where the other country agrees to implement legal changes and logistical support to allow FATCA to work in that country to enforce its compliance. In exchange, the US will: • Provide reciprocal tax information about the country’s tax payers to its government. • Exempt the country’s financial institutions from withholding1 . • Exempt the country’s financial institutions from having to withhold on other financial institutions or their customers. T&T signed a FATCA IGA with the US government on 20 August 2016 to gain or maintain the benefits listed above. What is the reason for the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill being debated in Parliament? The Bill allows T&T to implement its commitments in the IGA, including: • Allowing the Minister of Finance to establish a ‘Competent Authority’, which acts as the local FATCA regulator and point of submission for FATCA reporting. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) • Modifying local law to allow the reporting of account holders’ personal information by financial institutions and the government of T&T. What type of taxpayer information is to be automatically exchanged under FATCA? • Name, address and US TIN of each specified US person that is a holder of a reportable account. • In the case where a non-US entity is identified as having one or more Controlling Persons, the name, address, and US TIN (if any) of each specified US Person. • Account number. • Name and identifying number of the reporting T&T financial institution. • Account balance. • For a Custodial Account, the total gross amount of interest, dividends and total amount of other income generated. • For a Depository Account, the total amount of interest paid or credited. • For an account other than a Custodial Account or a Depository Account, the total gross amount paid or credited to the account holder. How is FATCA different from the older Tax Exchange of Information Agreements between the US and T&T? FATCA provides for the automatic exchange of information between financial institutions, the local competent authority and the US Treasury. What was the significance of 30 September 2016? The IGA committed T&T to report information about US tax payers by 30 September 2016. The Bill will make it legal for the Competent Authority and local financial institutions to report this information. According to the Minister, what will happen if the T&T government does not make good on its commitment to the US Treasury? Having missed the reporting deadline, and not taking all the necessary steps to obtain full compliance with FATCA, including the enactment of the Tax Exchange of Information Bill, the US Treasury may suspend T&T’s benefits under the IGA. 1 Withholding is a 30% tax on specific payments.
  14. 14. 24 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 25 What does all this mean for individuals and businesses? Generally, as a customer of a financial institution, you will need to provide more information about yourself or your business, and certify whether you are a US tax payer or not. If the US takes action against T&T for not meeting its commitments in the IGA, local financial institutions could be deemed non-compliant with FATCA, potentially leading to: • Your financial institutions’ US investment income or certain payments2 due to you, may now be subject to withholding. • Financial institutions outside of T&T may suspend dealings with your local financial institution, with a detrimental impact on a wide variety of transactions that require a correspondent relationship. 2 A payment includes any payment of interest (including any original issue discount), dividends, rents, salaries, wages, premiums, annuities, compensations, remunerations, emoluments and other fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, profits, and income, if such payment is from a source within the US
  15. 15. 26 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 27 FISCAL YEAR 2017 Analysis of tax revenues Taxes on Income and Profits of Oil Companies $472m Taxes on Income and Profits of Other Companies $6,808m Taxes on Income and Profits of Individuals $7,034m Value Added Tax $7,825m Other Tax Revenues $7,794m 2% 23% 23%26% 26%
  16. 16. 28 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 29 Analysis of recurrent government expenditure FISCAL YEAR 2017 Charges on Account of Public Debt $4,191m Ministry of Finance $5,769m National Security and Police Service $6,977m Education $4,965m Health $5,309m Energy and Energy Industries $918m THA $2,085m Utilities, Infrastructure, Development $8,632m Pensions and Social Services $7,535m Other $4,650m 8%9% 11% 14% 10% 10%2% 4% 17% 15%
  17. 17. 30 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 31 Status of fiscal measures 2016 Proposed Measures Implications Status VAT Reform Increase in VAT registration threshold from $360,000 to $500,000. Decrease in rate of VAT on standard rated supplies from 15% to 12.5%. Revision of zero rated goods and services. Enacted in the Finance Act, 2016 Enacted in the Finance Act, 2016 Enacted in Legal Notice No. 17 of 2016 Business Levy Increase in the rate of Business Levy from 0.2% to 0.6%. Enacted in the Finance Act, 2016 Green Fund Levy Increase in the rate of Green Fund Levy from 0.1% to 0.3%. Enacted in the Finance Act, 2016 Personal Allowance Increase in the Personal Allowance to resident individuals from $60,000 to $72,000. Enacted in the Finance Act, 2016 Home and Business Security Revision of existing technical specifications for zero rated CCTV and alarm systems. Not Implemented NIS Increase in earnings class limits and contribution rates. Enacted in the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2016 Old Age Pensions The cap on joint incomes received by retirees in respect of National Insurance and Old Age Pensions to be increased to $5,000 or an additional $500 per month. Enacted in Legal Notice No. 209 of 2015 Proposed Measures Implications Status Retirees’ Benefits No fees to be charged for drivers’ permits and passports for citizens who are 60 years of age or over. Implementation of a system of discounts on public utility bills for retirees. Enacted in Finance Act, 2016 Not Implemented Fuel Subsidy Increase in the retail price of Diesel from $1.50 to $1.72 per litre and Super Gasoline from $2.70 to $3.11 per litre. Enacted in Legal Notice No. 191 of 2015 Gaming Industry Expedite passage of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill. Not Implemented Agriculture Exemption from all duties and taxes of all inputs in the agricultural sector. Not Implemented Property Tax Enforce collection of Property Tax from 1 January 2016 using old rates and levels as a starting point. Not Implemented Revenue Authority Establishment of the Trinidad & Tobago Revenue Authority by the end of the 2016 fiscal year. Not Implemented Transfer Pricing Introduction of Transfer Pricing legislation. Not Implemented Budget Statement 2016
  18. 18. 32 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 33 Status of fiscal measures 2016 Proposed Measures Implications Status Online Shopping Imposition of a 7% levy on online purchases of goods and services from non-resident vendors. Not Implemented Motor Vehicles 50% increase in Customs Duty and Motor Vehicles Tax for private vehicles with an engine size exceeding 1999 cc. Enacted in Legal Notices Nos. 47 and 48 of 2016 Fuel Subsidy Increase in the retail price of Diesel to $1.98 per litre and Super Gasoline to $3.58 per litre. Enacted in Legal Notice No. 46 of 2016 Maxi Taxis and Taxis Reduction in taxes on maxi taxis and taxis Not Implemented CNG, Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Removal of all taxes on engine sizes not exceeding 1999 cc. Enacted in the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2016 Alcohol Proposed unspecified increase in taxes and levies. Not Implemented Tobacco Proposed unspecified increase in taxes and levies. Not Implemented Oil and Gas Tax Regime Proposed review of the regime to encourage production in marginal fields and areas of so-called “stranded gas” to encourage drilling and increased production of oil and gas. Not Implemented Proposed Measures Implications Status Oil and Gas Tax Regime Review of the Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT) on crude oil prices moderately higher than US$50 per barrel. Agreement to be reached with upstream companies on new natural gas supply contracts. Not Implemented Gaming Industry Enhanced collection of taxes due from gaming and gambling industry. The Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2016 was introduced in Parliament in July 2016 but not yet enacted VAT Proposal to “seriously consider” reducing the statutory period for an acceptable delay in VAT refunds to three months. Not Implemented Property Tax Enforce collection of Property Tax using old rates and levels as a starting point. Not Implemented Property Development Incentives Extension of the time period for the expiry of the tax incentives with respect to Commercial Buildings and Multi-Story Car Parks. Tax incentives for the construction of Multi-Family Residential Buildings. Enacted in the Finance (No. 2) Act, 2016 Agri-Processing Tax Incentives Tax Holiday and other incentives for Agricultural Processing Industries. Not Implemented Mid-Year Review 2016
  19. 19. 34 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 35 Corporate Tax Corporate tax rate Telephone company 45% Commercial company1 40%2 Non-commercial company 30% Investment company Exempt Capital gains tax rate 20%3 Withholding taxes Payments to non-residents Interest 20% Royalties 20% Rents 20% Management charges or charges for personal services and technical managerial skills 20% Premiums, commissions, fee or licences 20% Discounts, annuities or other annual or periodic payments 20% Dividends and distributions 20% Branch profits remittance 20% Net operating losses (years) Carry back Not Applicable Carry forward (corporation tax) Unlimited4 Carry forward (capital gains tax) 24 years 1 A commercial company is a company where at least 75% of its gross income is from trading in goods not manufactured and is defined to include banks and insurance companies other than long term insurance business. 2 The rate of corporate tax for a commercial company is the higher of 40% of chargeable income or 2% of turnover, whichever is higher. 3 In the case of capital gains arising within a period of 12 months, such chargeable gains shall form part of chargeable income subject to tax. 4 The loss to be set off in future years may not exceed 50% of the amount of tax payable had the set off not occurred. This limitation does not apply to petroleum operations. Guyana Tax Rates 2016
  20. 20. 36 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 37 Capital Allowances Petroleum sector Petroleum capital expenditure 20% per annum Diamond and gold mining sector Exploration and development expenditure 20% per annum Other sectors Rate1 Asset Aircraft 33.33% Boats 10% Buildings (housing machinery) 5% on cost Furniture and fittings 10% Motor vehicles 20% Electronic office equipment 50% Other office equipment 15% Plant and machinery 20% Value Added Tax Supply and import of most goods and services 16% Supply of financial services Exempt Rental of residential property Exempt Basic food items 0% Exports of goods 0% Certain supplies of services to non-residents 0% Registration threshold Taxable supplies of $10,000,000 per annum Property Tax Rates Value of net property for companies (GUY$) Up to 10,000,000 Nil 10,000,001 - 15,000,000 0.5% 15,000,001 and over 0.75% 1 Allowances may be claimed on a reducing balance basis or straight line basis. Where the latter basis is applied, allowances are limited to 90% of the cost of the asset. Guyana Tax Rates 2016 Income Tax Rates - Individuals Band of taxable income (GUY$) Rate of Tax Up to 660,000 0% 660,001 and over 30% Personal allowances Basic deduction $660,000 Mortgage interest 30% of interest paid (conditions apply) Employee national insurance contributions 100% National insurance contributions (% of maximum insurable earnings of GUY$200,000 per month) National Insurance Employee Employer Total Employed persons 5.6% 8.4% 14% Self-employed persons — — 12.5% For more information on Guyana Tax Services, contact: Gail Marks, Senior Manager +011 592 601 7071 | Colin Ramsey, Senior Manager +1 868 822 5016 | Guyana Tax Rates 2016
  21. 21. 38 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 39 EY Caribbean Leaders Executive Chairman Colin Soo Ping Chow Tel: (868) 628 1556 | Email: Country Managing Partners Barbados Maria Robinson Tel: (246) 430 3878 | Email: Trinidad & Tobago Pria Narinesingh Tel: (868) 628 9522 | Email: Jamaica Allison Peart Tel: (876) 925 2501 | Email: Dutch Caribbean Bryan Irausquin Tel: (599) 9 430 5075 | Email: Service Line Leaders Assurance Services Erick Statius van Eps Tel: (599) 9 461 1011 | Email: Advisory Services Arnold Niranjan Tel: (868) 822 6240 | Email: Tax Services Wade George Tel: (868) 628 5185 | Email: Transaction Advisory Services Christopher Sambrano Tel: (246) 430 3800 | Email: Industry Leaders Financial Services Pria Narinesingh Tel: (868) 628 9522 | Email: Energy Gregory Hannays Tel: (868) 622 1364 | Email: EY Tax Leaders Wade George, Director & Regional Tax Leader Tel: (868) 628 5185 | Email: Gregory Hannays, Director Tel: (868) 622 1364 | Email: Nassim Mohammed, Senior Manager Tel: (868) 822 5022 | Email: Anna Mouttet, Senior Manager Tel: (868) 822 5025 | Email: Susan Ramsamooj, Senior Manager Tel: (868) 822 6223 | Email: Colin Ramsey, Senior Manager Tel: (868) 822 5016 | Email: Gina Chung, Senior Manager Tel: (868) 822 5008 | Email: Alicia Fullerton, Manager Tel: (868) 822 6163 | Email: Cindy Knowles, Manager Tel: (868) 822 5003 | Email: Gale Riley, Manager Tel: (868) 822 5161 | Email: Marc Roper, Manager Tel: (868) 822 6214 | Email: Nicholas Camacho, Manager Tel: (868) 822 5516 | Email:
  22. 22. 40 | EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 EY Focus on Trinidad & Tobago Budget 2017 | 41 Tax Services Business Tax Services • Business tax compliance and advisory • Tax planning • Tax controversy/disputes • Tax accounting Accounting Compliance Reporting • Bookkeeping • Financial Statement Close Process support • Statutory reporting (including compilation) • Payroll • Financial advisory support Indirect Tax Services • VAT compliance and advisory • Property tax • Insurance premium tax • Hotel accommodation tax • Stamp duty • Financial services tax Human Capital Services • Expatriate tax compliance and advisory • Global employment tax services • Global business immigration services • Personal tax services International Tax Services • Cross-border corporate income tax advisory • Double tax treaty analysis • Tax-effective supply chain management • Withholding tax Transaction Tax Services • Evaluation of significant tax exposures • VAT and other indirect assessments • International tax • Tax structuring • Identification of post-transactional tax reduction options