This paper focuses on tax reforms for increased buoyancy in The Bahamas. The Bahamas has a low tax effort owing to limited tax handles and underutilization of available ones. Real property tax collections as percent of GDP have doubled within a decade. In addition to the real property taxes, a graduated stamp duty on the conveyance of immovable property is imposed at fairly steep rates. As a requirement to World Trade Organization membership, the tariff rates will be lowered from their current levels. It is expected that revenue losses from tariff reduction will be compensated by value-added tax revenues.
Over the last decade, Aruba has faced three recessions resulting in a public debt of approximately 90 percent of GDP. Its current budget deficit needs to be reduced and Aruba should close a fiscal gap of 1.5-2 percent of GDP over the next two to three years to return to a sustainable path. Earlier this year, the authorities have introduced a crisis package, mainly by increasing the turnover taxes. This temporary tax measure should be replaced by a tax reform that will modernize and simplify the current system.
The new tax system should not only raise more revenue, but also shift the tax burden away from income and profits toward consumption. The current system is not well equipped to make these changes. In replacing the crisis levy, the Government sees an opportunity to streamline the current tax system, modernize it, and make it more sustainable for the future needs of Aruba.