Tax Analysis is a crucial element in ensuring an efficiently managed economy. In its absence, there can be a lopsided approach to compliance management, transparency, and accountability. This was recently pointed out by Chartered Accountant and tax specialist, Christopher Ram. The Attorney-at-law believes that the tax analysis capabilities at the Finance Ministry and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is not only weak but requires urgent reform.
The tax specialist told the Guyana Standard, “I am always left disappointed when I am told time and again that such and such information is not available or capable of being produced or that whatever information was available was not reliable. Since information is the foundation of decisions, this area requires immediate attention by both parties (GRA and the Finance Ministry).”
As an example, Ram said that often times, information on tax exemptions for various years as well as the beneficiaries are improperly recorded at GRA but is still fed to the Finance Ministry for use.
Further to this, Ram said that strong tax analysis units are needed at both government entities since it would help to ascertain the effects of the existing tax laws, recommend alternative tax programmes, and prepare the necessary background and position papers to facilitate ongoing tax reforms. He said that this would significantly enhance revenue and the efficiency of taxes as a means of promoting growth in the economy.
Ram noted however that the first stage of tax analysis is a proper information system for collection of relevant data and the systematic collation of that data and its availability to various levels of management capable of using the information for decision-making purposes.
Going forward, the Chartered Accountant said that the government needs to establish a tax policy, analysis, and forecasting unit at the Ministry of Finance, and a functioning Tax Analysis Unit at GRA.
He said that the administration needs to ensure that all outstanding annual reports are brought up to date, and presented to the National Assembly in keeping with the law.
Ram said, too, that the government needs to facilitate tax workshops for GRA staff, retired judges, and the Attorney General’s office to resolve interpretation of tax provisions as they relate to enforcement, penalties, fines etc.