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Tax break helps teacher set up day centre

New business: Shekiah Washington, left, owner of the Little Achievers Day Care Centre, with Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A tax break for first-time business owners has paid off, a woman who opened her own childcare centre said yesterday.

Shekiah Washington, owner and head teacher at Little Achievers Daycare Centre, was one of the businesspeople who received a payroll tax break to help her start up.

She said it was “overwhelming but rewarding” to get Bermuda Economic Development Corporation assistance with her start-up.

Ms Washington added: “This is a new adventure — it wasn’t difficult or a long process.”

“I have been in the business for 18 years, but this is my first opportunity to have my own facility.”

Jamahl Simmons, the economic development minister, said the BEDC first-time entrepreneurs payroll tax relief scheme was designed to reduce obstacles to new businesses.

He added: “Any new business owners who register with the BEDC and meet the criteria in the creation of a new business will be exempt from the employer portion of payroll tax for not just themselves, but also any employees they hire for the first year of business.”

Mr Simmons was speaking outside Ms Washington’s Centre on Church Street in Hamilton.

Mr Simmons said the tax break had been promised last year by the Progressive Labour Party.

Small businesses must be Bermudian-owned and run, operate on-island, and have an annual gross payroll of not more than $500,000 to qualify for the BEDC scheme.

Annual revenues must be less than $1 million, and the business must have been established after April 1, 2018.

Mr Simmons added that the BEDC would issue a “new entrepreneurs payroll tax relief letter” inside five business days after an assessment and site visit.

The letter will give relief from the employer portion of payroll tax on the remuneration paid to themselves, if the business is owner-managed, or the owner is self-employed.

The break also covers staff for up to four tax periods from the start of the business.

Mr Simmons said a BEDC-commissioned survey had shown that “44 per cent of entrepreneurs felt that government requirements represented a significant challenge when starting a business”.

The survey showed interest in start-ups rising “significantly” over the past six years, with 84 per cent of non-business owners willing to get started within the next two years.

Mr Simmons said that was a 19 per cent rise from 2012.

He added: “Bermuda is ripe for entrepreneurism, with more and more people noticing gaps in the Bermuda market.”

Mr Simmons said the Government would also work “closely” with the BEDC to tackle the lack of funding available to local entrepreneurs and the cost of setting up a new business.