Jones strikes out at PLP over tax increases
The One Bermuda Alliance claimed tax increases under the Progressive Labour Party have left Bermudians with less cash in their pockets.
But the PLP defended its tax policies, which it argued aimed to address inequality and gave breaks to small businesses.
David Burt, the Premier, had claimed at a press conference last week that the PLP had reduced taxes for working Bermudians to their lowest levels ever.
Marcus Jones, the Senate leader for the OBA, described the claim as “very misleading”.
Mr Jones said: “Has the Premier lost his memory? Let us refresh it. He increased land tax and the foreign currency purchase tax, meaning things imported to Bermuda cost more.
“He introduced the dividend tax, which hit small Bermudian businesses, and he brought in the sugar tax which, increased people's grocery bills. Part of the proceeds of the sugar tax were meant to fund health programmes. That has not happened; another broken promise.
“In addition, government fees such as the dog licence and waste dumping fees have gone up. These are backdoor taxes.
“Do not be fooled, these increased taxes have reduced money in the pockets for the average Bermudian.”
A PLP spokeswoman responded yesterday: “Under the OBA, payroll taxes for workers were raised to the highest levels in history. The PLP government cut them to their lowest levels ever.”
The PLP pointed to tax reform under its latest administration, including:
• Payroll tax exemption for companies creating jobs in Bermuda
• One-year holiday on all taxes for new Bermudian businesses
• Tax incentives for the hiring of disabled Bermudians
The spokeswoman said: “We did reform our tax structure in a targeted way so that those who can afford to pay a bit more — the haves and have-mores — did so. The reason for this tax reform was to address the inequality inherent in the two Bermudas.”
She noted that the first $10,000 of dividends were tax free for small businesses.
But she added: “There were well-known large local businesses that were declaring $4 million of dividends every year, for many years, without paying any taxes. And it's these corporations that we want to pay a little more.
“The OBA would reverse these changes that made Bermuda more fair to benefit the haves and have-mores. We believe that businesses who earn $4 million a year should pay tax; that's why we changed the law.
“The OBA believes the employees of these companies should pay tax, but the wealthy owners should profit without paying any taxes.”