Govt. making significant progress on tax residency legislation

Govt. making significant progress on tax residency legislation
Elsworth Johnson, Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Substantive progress is being made on the tax residency certificate legislation, according to Elsworth Johnson, Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration.

Johnson explained the concept of “tax residency” in The Bahamas has to be carefully defined if this nation is to remain progressive and ahead of the changing global dynamics in international financial services.

He provided the update during remarks at a financial services virtual symposium today.

“The issue of residency is an important matter given global developments on tax transparency,” he said.

“The OECD released its Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information, which has a self-certification process for establishing residency for tax purposes, as the basis of information sharing.

“In this regard, the concept of “residency” and specifically “tax residency” in The Bahamas has to be carefully defined, especially if The Bahamas is to remain progressive and ahead of the changing global dynamics in international financial services.”

Johnson said: “The Tax Residency Certificate will be issued with a unique NIB TRC number. To be eligible for a tax residency certificate, the resident must pay the relevant fees and make an annual payment towards National Insurance at the rate and maximum wage ceiling for that particular year or be subject to another applicable tax.

“We have received proposals from industry, the benchmarking has been completed, and we are working closely with BFSB and their legal policy committee. Updates on this are forthcoming.”

Johnson also noted the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill 2019 is ready to be disseminated for industry’s comments.

“The timing of this could not be better as we double-down on our efforts to push for digitization across the Ministry, especially in the Department of Immigration,” he continued.

“Digitization has become a buzzword as we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. But, with innovation and creativity we are working to transform our service delivery model through digitization.

“The Integrated Immigration Management System has been an ongoing project since 2016, and while progress has been made, we are working to accelerate its implementation. Already the allows for the digitization of all of our record types; border crossings, permit application processing, arrests and detention etc., and complies with the government-wide digitization and transformation initiative,” said Johnson.

 “We have formed a steering committee to give this project the focus it deserves. This steering committee includes government leadership, as well as members of the private sector with experience in project management and ICT, and who are regular customers of the Department of Immigration.

“Our goal is not just to streamline immigration processes through digitization, but to also eliminate corruption by making the system cashless through online payments.”

Johnson also stressed the importance of tackling corruption in the Department of Immigration.

“It is a primary focus for us here at the Ministry, and I am happy to report that we have create a new position to specifically accept and investigate complaints, and to root out corruption,” he said.

“This is not just conceptual. The Cabinet has discussed the need for such an officer, and we are moving forward in the hiring process.”