AMCHAM urges Government to rethink 7% online purchasing tax

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 16:00

The T&T American Chamber of Commerce is asking the Government to rethink its position on the implementation of the online tax.

The 7% tax is due to take effect on Thursday morning.

AMCHAM issued this statement today.

"AMCHAM T&T is urging the Government to rethink its position on the implementation of the online purchase tax (OPT). This tax which is to be applied to all ‘online’ purchases sent via air freight and
is set to take effect from tomorrow.

AMCHAM T&T remains disappointed that, to date, there has been no consultation with the private sector, neither before the announcement in the Budget nor before the OPT implementation deadline.

Today was the first stakeholders meeting held by the Controller of Customs with the courier and air freight companies. At this meeting, it was obvious that there is no clear way forward, yet the OPT is targeted to be implemented within 24 hours. 

The OPT (which to our knowledge is yet to be proclaimed in law) places the onus on the air freight and courier companies, and any company bringing in items via air to correctly identify which goods are for commercial use as opposed to personal use. The determination of the use of goods bought by a customer is not the purview of an air freight or courier company.

Further, it leaves these companies open to possible penalties as a company’s interpretation of whether an item attracts the OPT may differ to the interpretation of the Customs official. It is also unclear if medical supplies or lifesaving medicines would be considered an ‘online purchase’ and would therefore be subjected to the OPT.

AMCHAM T&T believes that the lack of clear rules/guidelines can further impede the country’s competitiveness, and that it is important that as laws/guidelines change, the environment remain predictable. We are asking that the Government engage in meaningful dialogue with stakeholders.

AMCHAM T&T, through its membership, represents more than 80% of the items brought in via air, and we remain ready to meet and work with Government on this and other initiatives."