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Payroll tax rebate a time consuming ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ – former finance minister

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Bob Richards, a former OBA finance minister, who says the payroll tax rebate will be a time consuming bureaucratic nightmare. (File photograph)

A pledge by the Government to hand out rebates on payroll tax could turn into a “bureaucratic nightmare”, a former finance minister has said.

Bob Richards, who held the Cabinet post during the One Bermuda Alliance administration, said the onus would fall on private companies to provide information about employees, which would be time consuming.

David Burt, the Premier and finance minister, promised in July that applications for the rebate would be going out “by September”.

The payroll tax was just one of a number of measures announced in July as apart of a $15 million package intended to ease the cost of living crisis which has so far failed to materialise.

Mr Burt pledged people earning less than $60,000 annually would receive a $250 payroll tax rebate and those earning between $60,000 and $96,000 would receive a $100 rebate.

But, Mr Richards said it was unlikely the Government could sort out information needed for the rebate itself, and would be imposing burdens on business to do so.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I don’t think the government can work that out inside, they need information from employers.

“Sounds like it could be a bureaucratic nightmare. It certainly adds a layer of bureaucracy.

“They would have to create a form which makes it much more bureaucratic.

“Companies will have to do it because they have the information on their systems.

David Burt, the Premier and finance minister. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“International businesses can programme this into their systems, it would probably take a while, but they can.

“For smaller businesses it will be a lot more time consuming.”

Mr Richards added: “The important question is can the government afford this? What will it do to the revenue stream of government?”

Regarding payroll tax, Mr Burt told MPs on July 15: “It is expected that by September applications will be made available where 75 per cent of Bermuda’s workers will be eligible to apply for their rebate.”

The delay follows Diallo Rabain, the education minister, having to apologise because the one off $150 “back to school” payment was not ready in time for when pupils went back to public schools on September 12.

Diallo Rabain, education minister (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

There is still no word on when a 15 per cent increase in the food allowance budget for the Department of Financial Assistance is coming, neither is there a timescale regarding a promised $500,000 push for LED light bulbs for families to help to cut electricity bills.

Community groups, such as Family Centre, have called on the Government to get the financial help to struggling families as a matter of “urgency”.

Sandy De Silva, the executive director of the organisation, said that some struggling families would now need to use the “back to school” payment to buy groceries as people were going without enough food or power because of rising costs.

The Government has failed to answer repeated questions from The Royal Gazette regarding the slow pace of the implementation of the payroll tax rebate and other measures announced in July.

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Published September 21, 2022 at 12:46 pm (Updated September 21, 2022 at 12:46 pm)

Payroll tax rebate a time consuming ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ – former finance minister

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