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Antiguan Businesses Fight Tax Crackdown Through The Courts

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

16 December 2002


As the Antiguan government continues its efforts to recover some $70 million in unpaid corporate taxes, at least two businesses in the jurisdiction have taken legal action against the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, William Schouten.

The Antigua Sun newspaper reported on Thursday that Jolly Roger Antigua Ltd, and Courts (Antigua & Barbuda) Furnishings Ltd have both filed for ex parte applications in the High Court, meaning that the Inland Revenue is unable to collect taxes owed by enforcing a distress warrant on the businesses in question until their applications are heard.

Commissioner Schouten confirmed last week that the two businesses have filed injunctions against himself and Attorney General, Gertel Thom, but rejected suggestions that this will slow the tax authority's progress in collecting back taxes from around 60 defaulting businesses:

'They have filed injunctions in the court. It is part of the process; the taxpayer has the right to appeal. We just have to abide by what the court says and wait until the matter comes up for hearing,' he told the locally based newspaper, although he went on to add that:

'The process will go on. We will not cease or desist from collecting outstanding taxes.'

This follows an attack on the government's tax crackdown by Opposition leader, Baldwin Spencer. Speaking in early December, Mr Spencer called the campaign a 'political witch hunt', and accused the government of only targeting Opposition aligned companies.

The government, however, has strenuously and repeatedly denied that this is the case.


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