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Ninety-two per cent of the lawyers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines paid no personal income taxes in 2019, up from 66% the previous year, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said.

He made the disclosure during last week’s budget debate saying that most lawyers are making no contribution to the national coffers.

At the same time, some of them use the courtroom as their political soapbox, the prime minister said.

Gonsalves, a lawyer, said that in the face of demands by some lawyers, he asked tax officials about “how much you all putting in the kitty.

“Because everybody was talking equity. Everybody was talking access. Everybody was saying how the government must do this, the government must do that.”

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He said that there are 71 lawyers in SVG, and in 2018, 47 of them paid no personal income tax.

In 2019, of the 71, 65 paid no personal income tax,” the prime minister said.

“Mr. Speaker, but that isn’t the story. In 2018, the average personal income tax paid – one lawyer is $1,898. The highest among paid … was somebody who paid $25,835. Then somebody paid $8,100; somebody paid $19,457; somebody decided that they will put a – it’s shameful, they put a little thing in the kitty $308 in 2018. And they put the same $308 in 2019.”

Gonsalves said he had asked the Comptroller of Inland Revenue to provide him with the figures but not the names of the lawyers.

“I’m very happy I asked for it because I don’t think even the comptroller knew the state of the affairs until the files were got and they did the examination.”

Meanwhile, in terms of tax arrears owed to the government, Gonsalves said:

“I’ll call out some of the numbers: $1.729 million. … $667,000; $535[000], $661[000], $214[000]. I ain’t going call anything under $100[000] because there are so many of  those you know… — $791[000], $210[000]; $128[000], $1.492 million, $531,000[000], $2.869 million, $132,000.

“The total arrears is $11.3 million,” Gonsalves said, adding that the figure was enough to make a down payment on the national stadium.

 In terms of VAT, Gonsalves said that one person who owes $1.729 million in personal income tax also owes  $242,159 in VAT.

 “Somebody owe $154,000 in VAT; 34,000 and so on and so forth…

“Come on, you know, equity among equals proportionality among unequals. There are other professionals too but I choose the lawyers because they are the ones who are most outspoken. 

“They in the courtroom, they use the courtroom as a place for politics they ain’t talking to the jury or the judge. They turn halfway so and they talking to the crowd. They in the gallery — wha’ Ralph should do and wha’ Ralph shouldn’t do,  Mr. Speaker,” the prime minister said.  

22 replies on “92% of lawyers paid no income tax in 2019”

  1. Gersham Alexander says:

    Government needs to collect from them. Start with the part supporters first. Then again, perhaps the the comptroller of inland revenue is sleeping? Come on the income tax department needs to levy against them

  2. Gersham Alexander says:

    Many businesses, mainly party supporters, also collect NIS deductions from their workers and refuse to pay it to the NIS.

  3. Mr PM….u.left me hanging. I was awaiting to hear what u were going to do to collect especially the VAT from those persons whose figures you mentioned. ..these r monies taken from people for the government. …am doing they r withholding it. Correct me if I am wrong. …other person get prosecuted n even jailed when theyou theif other people money. So what do u call the action of those who r withholding the VATV?

  4. These are some of the people who want to govern SVG? Vincy has the most lawyers per capita for any developing country and the most crime and corruption. Truth be told we need more engineers,agronomists, trades people and entrepreneurs.These are the people who build a nation and create jobs.
    Having more lawyers in politics is one way of guaranteeing that we remain poverty stricken and this seems to be the trend in poor and struggling developing countries like SVG. Don’t know any countries that were built by lawyers. Our young people need to change their mindset about becoming lawyers and aspire to be real nation builders. That’s how we’ll truly prosper.

  5. No long talk!!!

    Please prosecute ALL to the fullest extent of the law.

    If true, this is simply disgusting.

    This is where society will want to bucket us all smh but I’m not taking any bucketing with people who are unethical et al.

    I dont care who, why or party affiliations….CHARGE AND PROSECUTE ALL WHO HAVE BREACHED THE LAW.

  6. Another confusing statement by the master of ambiguity.
    1. They did not pay because they did not file? If so does the law not say that everyone (with a certain minimum income…let’s say) is required to file?. If that is the law is it not easy to audit and assess these defaulters for failure to file?
    2. If they filed but did not pay any taxes…is it because they were allowed to deduct (legally) enough expenses to bring their taxable income to zero? If so then that is all legal.(this is the Trump scenario)
    3. If they filed but omitted income (failed to report income) is that not a crime…again subject to audit and assessment?
    Now this has been allegedly going on for years. Does the government not have an Income tax department whose mandate is to ensure that taxes are properly collected from those who should pay? Who is the Minister connected to Inland Revenue….. don’t answer that!
    More mumbo jumbo from the Trump of the Caribbean!!

  7. Chris Ulm
    Thank god there is at least one person who shares my view that lawyers are the bane of society. They should not be in politics. They are wired to thrive on whats wrong with society not to build one.They generally are not bright enough to be engineers so don’t get your hopes up.

  8. I would like to see all of Ralph Gonsalves past tax returns, lets start there.

    The problem is with lawyers not paying their taxes is that it stops them being opponents of the ruling party and opens them up to be blackmailed.

    If you or I owed such amounts we would very soon be locked up.

    For Gonsalves to know about this, and he does because he has mentioned it several times over the years, then for him not to oversee the collection of such monies may be a criminal act on his part. Particularly if any enforcement is being waylaid by him.

  9. What happen to the tax laws are they allowed to contribute what they can or they must pay based on the actual salary. Where the laws that govern how much a person should pay based on their income. It is obvious if you are only asking them to contribute something then this situation happens. I would not blame the lawyers the tax laws that allow then to not contribute nothing. Paying taxes is not a moral obligation it is a lawful one.

  10. $10,000 in legal fees for the bank to finance a mortgage of $250000. It is ridiculous. Not a conveyance just a finance ( loan from bank). For something that has a template and the particulars are just change.Legal fees alone will deter some people from doing business in this place. – This is highway robbery! When I ask about the fees, the lawyer say is plenty money to study. Well I told him University of London BSc. is ~ £8000. Why should we absorb UWI, Cave Hill overpriced …undervalued degrees!! A law degree from Cave Hill has no relevance outside of trying to get into Hugh Woodings. Talk UWI’ s jurassic, anti competition policy!!

    But we are a creative people so I hope the next generation of lawyers are more creative and can pass on the savings so that we can use them more often. No more relying singularly on a mortgage and gorge out our eyes.

  11. The government should ensure that one of the requirements to enter as a candidate in any election is to be in compliance with the Inland revenue department . let them disclose their income tax. You can not be unscrupulous and expect you give your best to the electorate. Some countries make it mandatory for politicians to disclose their assets and liabilities. In St Vincent the time has come for that to be put into practice. Let me see if both the Ndp and Ulp leaders will support this nortion.

  12. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    Collecting this money should be comparatively easy. Send each of the rascals an estimate of One Million Dollars to be paid or appealed within, 31 days. Put the onus on them to prove they do not owe the money or to pay forthwith. Go back seven years making it seven million dollars.

    Go after their big house and be relentless. Value their house and make them prove how they paid for it. Value everything that they own, cars etc. If things are in the wife’s name make her furnish proof of income also.

    1. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

      Don’t go after them all at once it will open up too many fronts at the same time. Just a handful to start with so as proper inspection and audit can take place for each of them.

      1. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

        Consider prosecuting anyone in public office who new of these matters and took no steps to correct the payment of those outstanding taxes.

        This is a matter for a no confidence motion against Ralph Gonsalves, come on NDP get going.

  13. Ralph Gonsalves states that 92% of the lawyers in St Vincent paid no income tax in 2019. However, he doesn’t say what he is going to do about it. He should get the Inland Revenue to investigate their financial affairs to find out if they have understated their income. If so they should be fined and forced to pay the arrears.

    1. You are right Tommy! Usually the difficult part is identifying the tax-evaders. In this case they seem to know who they are. Makes you wonder why the government does absolutely nothing about it. They cry that they want more money and they raise taxes on all or us, but apparently they know where to get the money without raising taxes.
      The multi-million dollar question:


      One person that commented is probably right.
      .The answer is:


      Ralph Gonsalves seems to have backed himself into a corner here by identifying the culprits and displaying that he is too weak to execute the law, meaning he is a failure as head of the executive branch.

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