Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents BG8 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 2014 • WEEK ONE
Roughly half of the small and
medium enterprises (SMEs)
in T&T need to become more
aware of their tax and other
financial obligations, said
financial consultant Naim Ali.
"With regard to SMEs who need to improve
their accounting abilities, I would say about
50 per cent of them need that help. Of course,
I am not saying that 50 per cent of them are
non-compliant in the paying of taxes and other
financial obligations. There is a lack of aware-
ness by SME owners of their obligation to the
relevant authorities for taxes and surcharges
due by them," he told the Business Guardian
in an interview in December.
Ali is a lecturer at CTC College of Business
and Computer Science and an MBA graduate.
He has been in the financial world for the past
18 years has just written a 27-page booklet,
When and How to Account for Taxes and
Other Charges in T&T, which was launched
on December 12.
In the foreword, Ali wrote that it is not dif-
ficult or costly for SMEs to be compliant with
tax obligations. He said SMEs lack of knowl-
edge of basic tax obligations led to him com-
piling the information into a booklet.
"The first guide seeks to assist persons who
want to do the right things, to conform to the
laws governing the operation of businesses in
T&T. It puts the myth to rest once and for all
that computing, paying taxes, adhering to Gov-
ernment and statutory regulations are difficult
"Last year, I was interviewing a couple new
potential clients. Some of them had the fear
of accounting and some of them were unaware
of the obligations, like Health Surcharge and
NIS. Even small companies were unaware of
annual returns that must be paid, even through
the Register General Office, and so on. From
discussing with them, I realised there was the
need for a book to help fill that gap," Ali said.
He said the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR)
has done its part to educate and sensitise the
businesses about their obligations, but more
needs to be done.
"There are ads from the Register General s
Office. However, this book compiles all those
provisions into one document you can have
in front of you. Look at simple things like NIS
contributions, there are some smaller businesses
who are not aware they have to pay this, even
if they have one apprentice. Then there is
Health Surcharge, the filing of returns within
a specific timeframe, the PAYE for employees,"
Ali said although these SMEs are good at
what they do, they still lack knowledge of basic
"Many of the SMEs are objective-oriented,
they are versed in what they their businesses
are, but the financial and accounting aspects
of it, they lack knowledge of. Those are the
ones that are non-compliant because of their
inability to recognise these financial obligations
as part of how they do business."
Ali gave examples of penalties for non-com-
pliance in some areas.
"If they fall within brackets for paying PAYE,
then there is no penalty for not filing forms.
However, if they do not file the BIR Returns
for businesses, the penalty is $1,000 for every
six months after the due date. That is the
penalty for not filing. The interest that would
be accrued when they are obligated to pay for
employees or the company and they have not
done, so that is another set of charges again,"
SMEs not being compliant, Ali said, has
negative effects at the macroeconomic level.
"The economy itself is not getting the ben-
efits they should be getting. Certain incomes
that the Government or the economy should
be getting such as Health Surcharge for the
health sector, the Business Levy, the Green
Fund and other taxes, are being deprived to
the Government by non-compliance. But we
cannot blame the business sector for it totally.
The Government and BIR had done an incentive
a couple years ago where there was an amnesty
for people filing taxes. That was to help busi-
nesses get compliant. That was because of
good public relations but, after that, it ended
there. After that, there was no emphasis."
Ali said accountants and financial advisers
have to do more to sensitise SMEs and the
public about their obligations.
"We must help our clients and this book is
one way of doing that."
He said the Government and business sector
must work together to ensure that all stake-
holders understand their legal obligation.
"I think the authorities have embarked on
a number of measures to protect the economy
and to prevent people from getting financial
hurt. However, we must understand as an
evolving economy, as the world evolves, there
will always be some loophole. The business
sector has to partner with the authorities to
be able to get these things worked out."
Contents of the booklet
The book s foreword states the objective is
to "alleviate the frustration of inadequate
method of dissemination of information and
misconception about the cost and difficulty
to adhere to laws and regulations."
It says the information is created from various
sources, including Ministry of Finance s Inland
Revenue Department, Ministry of Legal Affairs
Company Registrar s Office, NIB, and other
The booklet is broken up into different sec-
tions: a company s data sheet, obligations,
penalties, registration, banking, tax rates, NIS
rates and important dates to remember when
filing taxes returns,
"On the 15th of every month, your NIS,
PAYE and Health Surcharge for your employees
must be paid. So on January 15, you would be
paying for the month of December. If you have
an amount paying for an employee and a busi-
ness did not pay it for the NIS, you have to
pay 15 per cent per annum interest and a penalty
of 20 per cent that is outstanding, and that
remains due until it is paid. What is a small
amount now can add up to a bigger amount
if left unpaid over a period of time."
Ali intends to do training with SMEs in Jan-
uary and is in talks with the National Entre-
preneurship Development Company Ltd and
other agencies to promote the book.
"I am talking to NEDCO right now. I also
want to do training with budding entrepreneurs
on aspects of financial obligations and how to
start a business and operate one." The book
will be in all major bookstores following the
Consultant pens book on
SMEs' financial obligations
PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
SMEs not being
negative effects at the
Links Archive January 1st 2014 January 3rd 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page