Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is seeking to find out, through online marketplace and hospitality services such as Airbnb and Expedia, about nationals offering their private homes for rent to visitors.

The interest comes as hoteliers have complained that these private homeowners have an unfair advantage in that they do not pay the climate change levy imposed on visitors’ accommodation established since June 1.

Speaking at a press conference in Kingstown, on Monday, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, said:

“One of the issues that were raised by the hoteliers was that there are a number of people who are renting their homes, particularly in the Grenadines, but not exclusively, on Airbnb.

“They build these homes and villas and they rent them on the Internet: one night or long stays. And those people are entirely escaping the tax net, they are not paying any taxes of any sort, which is obviously unfair.

“It is an unfair advantage and it is an unfair imposition on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to conduct these types of businesses and not pay taxes and Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Tourism is working with Airbnb, Expedia and the other places where these are listed online to get better data about how they are rented so that we can also collect taxes from them.”

Meanwhile, the minister also said he had chosen not to respond, earlier this year, to comments generated after a letter to the government from the Hotel and Tourism Association made it into the public sphere.

“I chose not to disclose our on-going correspondence because I didn’t think this was a matter that should be sort of litigated in the press. So, there was only this one letter out, which was one part of a series of correspondences.”

The industry group had expressed concerns about the potential impact of the tax of US$3 per night, per room, which came into effect on existing and future bookings.

He said the government had met the hoteliers prior to the Budget and the levy was crafted in keeping with their suggestions.

“… the Hotel and Tourism Association is clear that there is a levy, that the levy is in effect and the Inland Revenue Department is working out the mechanics of the registration and billing processes, essentially,” the finance minister said.

4 replies on “Gov’t to crack down on rented homes avoiding climate levy”

  1. The sad truth is that the present government of SVG has been addicted to spending, but not spending on the things they should be spending on such as the upkeep on government buildings, such as schools, and obviously roads. Even the very bad Keynesian Economics advocates spending on such infrastructure as roads. Instead we have a shiny new airport that we could not afford to build or maintain. All these taxes are to pay for the excessive spending. I highly doubt any of it goes to anything to do with the climate.
    Tourists already say that SVG gives the worst value for the money compared to other Caribbean destinations. Why are we doing everything possible to make it even worse?
    Why does it seem to be our goal through legislation and taxes, to financially scare away as much investment as possible, making other destinations more appealing than ours?

  2. Is this climate change levy actually being used to reduce the effects of climate change on our country? Even, it is earmarked for such, it will have no effect since the only way to mitigate the most adverse effects of climate change is to migrate to higher ground or to other parts of the world.

    As elsewhere in the world, this is just another tax grab on an overtaxed people.

  3. The Barbados gov. have this same problem and is as we speak also going after the tax evaders . The gov, of SVG has all right to pursue their rightful share of tax revenue gain from private entity businesses . This is the status quo in any civil country especially in the US where you can be jailed and fined for tax evasion .

    How else is the gov. supposed to maintain and equip its country……the above comments always try to change the narrative of the story …………the essence here is not increasing taxes but to collect unpaid taxes and curb the trend !!!!!!!!!

  4. Concerned citizen says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with AI, this government seem to think that taxing investors is the way to go, rather than a more efficient collection of taxes from those citizens who do not pay any or very limited taxes. They should look at the unreported taxable revenues from those who will readily complain about the lack of maintenance of schools, roads and other services that government should be providing but neglect to contribute their fair share of taxes on earnings. Those who rent their homes should contribute via PAYE ( pay as you earnn) taxes, but so should self employed individuals such as those in the building trade, lawyers, doctors and others. Just increasing taxes only on those who bring in investors is definitely not the way to go. Forget about amnesty for any evaders and fine or jail them when they persist in keeping development back by not paying what is owed to the government and by extension the Vincentian people. The very first people they should jail are those who see the collection of VAT as another source of funding for their businesses rather than passing such sums on to the government, this should be viewed for what it is, FRAUD. I know this may causes some to change their allegiance to a particular party, but votes should not be the main criteria when trying to dig a country out of a financial hole. Look around at the amount of six and eight cylinder vehicles with very poor fuel consumption been brought into the country to gorge themselves on heavily discounted fuel, raise the taxes on petrol whilst maintaining current levels on diesel (this in the short term only). Most citizens of other “first world” ountries have moved to more fuel efficient vehicles due to the high cost of fuel yet we still persist in this. I have no doubt that others can suggest other ways of saving foriegn currency as well as increasing the tax revenue. Government cannot just print money, it has to function through the collection of taxes, so we should first sort out the tax collection issues before raising taxes.

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