KRALENDIJK – Various entrepreneurs on Bonaire have recently been startled by substantial additional assessments from the Tax and Customs Administration of the Caribbean Netherlands (B/CN) for old financial years.
The tax office is apparently busy cleaning up old files, because various entrepreneurs have recently received assessments concerning the year 2017; a financial year that was closed more than five years ago.
It often concerns taxative assessments (ambsthalve aansalgen, ed.) with amounts varying between thousands and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, when it comes to the methods of the Tax and Customs Administration CN, things are running far from smooth.
For example, many entrepreneurs receive a reminder or even a bailiff on their doorstep, even though they never received the assessment itself. The entrepreneurs involved are not only in the dark about the basis for the additional assessments, but – if the assessment has not been received – are also unable to object to the additional assessment within the allotted time. They are also not able to protest in a motivated way, not knowing what the tax collected is based on.
“Suppose I have commited an error in the year 2017, how is it possible that the Tax Inspectorate only finds this out five years later,” says an entrepreneur. “If the Tax and Customs Administration had sounded the alarm immediately after the end of the financial year, I would not have made the same mistake again between 2018 and 2022, even if they turn out to be right”.
According to the entrepreneur involved, the Tax Office appears to avoid a possible limitation period with arbitrary assessments on exactly December 31, 2022. “It seems that the Tax Office does not have its own systems in orderm and is struggling with significant backlogs. In addition, the additional assessments often seem to be based on nothing. But it burdens us, years later, with administrative burden to prove them wrong”.
Not customer friendly
Unfortunately, this is not the only complaint about the behavior of the tax authorities in Kralendijk. Taxpayers who try to make an appointment to obtain clarity on their assessment or their file are hardly ever heard. Appointments cannot be made, or seem undesirable. Taxpayers are told that they must take the formal route to protest against the assessments. Taxpayers who dare to visit in person are immediately brushed off.
“This while in many cases I can quite easily prove that it is an error on the part of the Tax Office” says Curtis Eduarda. As accountant he assists various companies on the islands, when it comes to preparing financial statements and in handeling tax matters. “I have, on behalf of clients requested to receive a printout of data from the system, but I am then told that it is ‘not possible’. This is quite unusual, because tax authorities in Curaçao and St. Maarten, for example, immediately send this to the taxpayer by e-mail on request, or they can collect a printout at the counter after a few days”.
Those who protest against the often exorbitant assessments will still live in uncertainty for months, because the Tax and Customs Administration of the Caribbean Netherlands uses the full period allotted, to respond to ojections filed against the respective assessments.