Rise in Customs duty for travellers delayed

A change in Customs duty on goods purchased abroad has been delayed until November, Premier Paula Cox announced.

And Government is considering extending payroll tax relief it announced was in line for retailers, to other sectors.

Said Ms Cox in a statement tonight: "On the Customs duty changes at the airport, given the time required to make system changes, including the changes to bank kiosks at the airport that are used for payment of Customs duty, the recently announced changes to the Customs duty on goods accompanying residents when they return from overseas trips will have effect from November 4, 2011."

Government announced on Friday that duty rates on goods declared at the airport by returning residents will increase from 25 percent to 35 percent, and travellers' allowance will be restricted to one person per household. The changes were to go into effect on Saturday, October 1.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister said that she had requested a "fresh review of business classifications" eligible for the six-month lift of payroll tax offered to retailers on Friday.

She said: "Changes over the years mean that old models and definition of what should be classified as ‘retail' today are less relevant and some further changes are required.

“For example, barber shops and beauty salons now sell hair products and related items to their clients. Are they to be classified as operating in the ‘household and personal services sector' where historically they have been classified for economic purposes? Or are barber shops and salons also ‘retail' outlets? Similarly, are gas stations that sell food, drinks and other consumer items to be classified in the retail sector or are they in the transport sector?

“In modern economies like Bermuda's economy, there are many more grey lines between business sectors than there used to be.

“This is a reason to take a fresh look at how economic policy initiatives should apply to different sectors of business activity during difficult economic conditions where financial relief is the policy goal."

Ms Cox said she had invited "estimates of cost" which could enable an extension of the temporary relief offered to traditional retailers.

“Accordingly once further data is available, a listing of any further categories, if any, that may benefit from the temporary payroll tax concession will be available from the Office of the Tax Commissioner."

She continued: “It is never possible to please all stakeholders when tough choices must be made. However, in order that we do go forward with a benefit for the majority, this Government will make the tough choices for the benefit of all of Bermuda's people."

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Published Oct 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm (Updated Oct 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm)

Rise in Customs duty for travellers delayed

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