In a statement issued on Thursday, October 25, 2012, the United Workers Party stated the following: “Due to demands from the Inland Revenue Department the local banking and financial sector are now forced to apply deductions on payments to pensioners effective November 01, 2012″.
This statement is a blatant lie, not simply an untruth.
By a letter dated August 20 2010, when Stephenson King was Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Department wrote all employers reminding them that all former employees who are in receipt of pension incomes are liable to tax. This has always been the law of Saint Lucia. A copy of the letter is attached for public reference and information.
Clearly, the Leader of the Opposition has, once again, demonstrated that for four and a half years, he served simply as an observer in the Ministry of Finance with absolutely no knowledge of the laws of the nation he led. It is little wonder he claimed that the economy of Saint Lucia grew by 4.4% when this too was a blatant lie.
The United Workers Party through its statement has condemned the Inland Revenue Department for seeking to ensure that employers and employees comply with the requirements of the Income Tax Act. How can the Opposition encourage businesses to break the law, the same law they administered while they were in office?
The facts of the matter involving the Payment of Income Tax are as follows:
1. The Income Tax Act was enacted in 1989. Sir John Compton was Prime Minister, George Mallet his Deputy, Parry Husbands the Attorney General with Hon. Stephenson King serving as Minister for Community Development Social Affairs, Youth and Sport. The practice of the payment of Income Taxes on pensions is nothing new, as was suggested by the malicious Press Release issued by the UWP. That has always been the law;
2. Under the Income Tax laws, pensioners are allowed a personal deductible allowance of $17, 400.00 plus an additional $6,000.00 pension allowance, a total of $23, 400.00. This amount will increase to the new threshold of $24, 400.00 when the new amendment by the SLP Government takes effect; and
3. It is common practice for the Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Department to write to establishments or individuals who are not compliant with the tax laws. As such, on August 20, 2010, over two years ago, one such letter was sent to the First Caribbean International Bank, among others.
This begs a simple question: Why the lies, the deceit and the hypocrisy?
If the Leader of the Opposition truly feels that this form of taxation is “an act of economic criminality and gross insensitivity” as stated in the UWP Press Release, why then were employers being cautioned under his watch as Minister for Finance? Why then, wasn’t the law changed while the UWP was in office?
This is yet another egregious attempt by an opposition who are struggling to remain relevant in the midst of the progress happening around them. Given the frequency of the absurd and unintelligent outbursts of the United Workers Party and its uninformed and misdirected leader, Stephenson King, the Government is left with no choice but to advise the public to treat with skepticism and suspicion, all statements issued by the United Workers Party.
The Government calls on Stephenson King to retract the statements, apologize to the Government, the Inland Revenue Department and the people of Saint Lucia. No Opposition can survive on a continuous diet of lies!