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Note to Taxpayers in the San Pedro Area!

Dear Editor,

Recently I was listening to a conversation and heard that a businessman in San Pedro received an assessment from the Income Tax Dept and he did not receive any notice that he needed to present his records for viewing by a Tax Officer nor did anyone from that Department visited his store and requested to see his records.   Yet when he visited the San Pedro Income Tax office to see the tax officer he was told that the assessment was done by someone in Belize City and that if he does not pay it by the end of the month he will be taken to court.  The business man then agreed to sign an arrangement to pay a monthly fee because he did not want to be taken to court.

After hearing this I was shocked because it was clear that due process and the principle of natural justice was not applied.

To the best of my knowledge when someone from the Tax Dept. is about to assess a taxpayer a letter should be sent to them requesting their records.  In some cases the Tax Officer can visit the business establishment and inform the taxpayer that a review of their records will be done.  Common courtesy does not hurt the process.  If the taxpayer fails to provide the required documentations/records within reasonable time a best judgment can be done.

After the best judgment is done and the Taxpayer received the assessments he has 15 days to appeal stating the grounds or reason for not agreeing with the assessments.   You cannot be taken to court immediately and if the taxpayer has his business records of sales he can prove that he is not making the assessed amount.  There is no reason to be scared or bullied into signing an arrangement to pay if you think that you are being assessed unfairly.

The taxpayer should have at least been told of his right to appeal by the Tax Officer.   There should be no need to threaten a taxpayer with court action in order for them to sign an arrangement to pay off a tax debt.  An arrangement to pay should be an option that the taxpayer chooses after he is satisfied that he has been assessed reasonably or it can be ordered by a court.

Whilst such behavior by a Tax Officer is not criminal it is bordering unethical behavior and can be considered an abuse of power if the proper due process was not followed.

A concerned citizen.

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