Six Main Tax Benefits Available under the Government’s Special Economic Recovery Zone Order

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Acting Controller of Inland Revenue, Gaynell Rolle (far right) announced the systems and processes in place to implement the package of tax breaks that will be part of the Government’s new special economic recovery zone order 2019 at a press conference at the Department of Inland Revenue, November 28, 2019. Pictured sitting from left: Talmon Brice, Director of Revenue, Ministry of Finance; Chief Revenue Analyst, Gia Williams-Ferguson; Director of Tax Policy and Planning, Department of Inland Revenue, Keith Worrell; and Ms. Rolle. Standing is Communications Consultant, Ministry of Finance, Noelle Nicolls. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Acting Controller of Inland Revenue, Gaynell Rolle said the Department of Inland Revenue and the Customs Department (the revenue collecting agencies of the Government), have been working hard to put systems and processes in place to implement the package of tax breaks that will be part of the Government’s new special economic recovery zone order 2019, which is called the SERZ Order for short. During a press conference at the Department of Inland Revenue, Thursday, November 28, Ms. Rolle explained that the tax benefits under the SERZ Order will take effect on December 1, 2019 and expire on June 30, 2020. 

“They apply only to the recovery zones, which are the islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco and the surrounding cays and to individuals and businesses that are resident to those affected islands.” She said there are six main tax benefits that are available under the order and they will be found at the border, the cash register and with the tax collector.

The benefits include:

·      Tax free importation of goods directly into the recovery zones.  This applies to cargo directly imported into Grand Bahama, Abaco and the surrounding cays.

·      VAT-free purchase of goods inside the recovery zones, this applies to goods purchased inside the zone.

·      Duty-free and VAT-free replacement of vehicles and boats.

·      Relief from all business license fees

·      Real Property Tax relief for improved property.

·      Discounted VAT on the sale of Real Property.

Mrs. Rolle said, “These tax breaks will allow individuals affected by the catastrophic Hurricane Dorian to rebuild their lives more affordably and with greater speed.” They include a wide range of items from building supplies, furniture and office equipment to fishing and farming supplies, medicine and personal hygiene products.  The list includes water, fruits and vegetables and other unprepared and prepared foods, including food sold at restaurants. At the cash register in Abaco and Grand Bahama, consumers will effectively pay no VAT on most items available locally.  Consumers just shop within the recovery areas and approved items will be VAT-free at the cash register.

The Acting Controller said for Direct Cargo Imports at the border in Grand Bahama, Abaco and the surrounding cays, certified individuals and businesses will have the benefit of tax free imports on approved items. She stressed that pre-approval by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Inland Revenue is required for presentation at the border.  “This process requires individuals and businesses to complete the Tax Relief Consolidation Form. In Abaco, submit this form to the Hurricane Dorian One Stop Shop at the Government Complex.  In Grand Bahama, submit this form to the Department of Inland Revenue.  Once certified, this form is presented to Customs for the tax waiver. The Acting Controller stated that as this is a comprehensive relief package, with six different tax benefits, the Department will be publishing more information over the coming days and weeks to provide additional details about the ins and outs.

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