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OBA would raise tax for high earners – Simons

The Royal Gazette sits down with Cole Simons Opposition Leader (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Tax will go up for high earners if One Bermuda Alliance regains power, party leader Cole Simons has said.

Asked if taxes would go up under an OBA administration, Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette: “In some cases, yes. I think it will be progressive, those who have benefited the most will make a contribution.

“You can’t have a blue-collar worker expected to make the same percentage contribution when they are struggling to live.

“But, those who are benefiting economically, and, you know, there are a lot of people in this country … that are making millions of dollars.

“There are people that are making hundreds of thousands of dollars, young people and older people and if we have a progressive system that’s equitable and fair and transparent and has a defined timeline then that’s something we would accept.”

Mr Simons, who was speaking before David Burt unveiled proposals that could shake-up the payroll tax system, said he would introduce a review of the tax system with input from international business operations.

“We will try to craft a plan that is beneficial for the people and that plan will be crafted with not just politicians, the stakeholders – we have a resource of human capital in international business who can help us. Because, if we get it right, their companies will get it right.

“It is our job (as the government), but we can get input from stakeholders, including local businesses. We can be more inclusive about it.

“There are stakeholders in this community that have a vital role to play and have skin in the game just as much as we do as politicians.

“We would do that by looking at international business for support and then we have to revisit and restructure the current tax structure of this country.

“I take the view that the current tax structure that we have today is dated. It was crafted in a period that was different from today. So, is it adequate? Is it efficient? Is it appropriate?

“I would have a commission put in place that would help come up with some recommendations in regards to updating our tax system.

“I really take the view that the tax structure is dated and it is inadequate for the Bermuda that we live in today.”

On measures to try and alleviate the cost of living crisis, Mr Simons said: “We will cancel the sugar tax. In addition, we would look at providing a temporary cap on freight costs so that it is cheaper to get goods here. We would look at reducing government taxes on gas and diesel.”

Asked how an OBA government would be different from the PLP one, Mr Simons said: “And guess what? It may not be that different. It’s getting the respect of the community, and getting the trust of the community.

“Politics is about relationship building and if I can trust you then I will come out and help you.

“If we forge a proper relationship with the business community, educators – the level of trust in the leadership of this country needs to improve.

“We stand for equity, we stand for sound economic principles, we are in touch with the people at all levels and we are inclusive and honest.”

Delivering the pre-budget report to MPs last Friday, the Premier said he wanted consultations about suggestions to exempt anyone earning less than $48,000 from the payroll tax system.

Under the plan the next three highest bands would see increases to pay for the reform.

But, Mr Burt said that people earning below $105,000 would be paying less payroll tax than in the previous year under the initiative.

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Published December 13, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated December 13, 2022 at 7:48 am)

OBA would raise tax for high earners – Simons

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