Report: Turnover tax at 4% earned less revenue than 2%

MARIGOT--The Collectivité recouped less revenue from the increase of Taxe Général sur le Chiffres d'Affaires (TGCA) to four per cent than it did when it was at two per cent, Independent Territorial Councillor Jules Charville has disclosed, citing a 2013 report.
He warned that now the TGCA has been imposed across the board to all services at four per cent the result will be more business closures, more unemployment, and significantly more people applying for the Revenu Solidarité Active (RSA) benefit, potentially bumping its cost to the Collectivité up to 20 million euros per year from 16 million.
"People could either not pay the four per cent for whatever reason or businesses closed because they were in trouble," he explained. "All these recent tax measures will have the opposite effect to what the President (Aline Hanson) is expecting."
According to Charville one solution for the financial predicament is for the Collectivité to cut back on its own expenses to see where money is being wasted.
"It needs to tighten its belt, which it doesn't do. Secondly, there is money due to us which the State is sitting on but what is lacking is the political will and courage to go after it. The State was supposed to continue paying us the 12 million euro share from the Octroi de Mer pay-out from 2009 but they never did. That's 60 million euros right there due to us, retroactively, from 2009 to 2014.
"Despite the cost of RSA having quadrupled the State is only compensating us today with 3.2 million euros on 16 million euros based on 2010 figures. In addition the Collectivité has to reimburse Caisse Allocation Familiale (CAF) for paying out the RSA and it owes a lot. It's the responsibility of the President to demand that we be compensated at least12 million euros on 16 million. Then there is the issue of getting the right compensation from the transfer of competencies which we are currently contesting in court.
"If we could get all this money we would not have a financial problem in the Collectivité. We wouldn't need to be imposing these tax measures that aim to raise 10.9 million euros. The battle should be with France, not by hitting the poor man by taxing 30 per cent of his RSA benefit. Instead of arm wrestling with the Government the President is taking the easy way out."
Charville said he did not agree in principle with taxing the RSA as it is illegal in the French constitution, but the Collectivité got around it through its own autonomous tax structure, separate from France. He added it is imperative the Collectivité tackles abuse of the system by policing who is entitled to RSA and who isn't.
"I don't see anything being done about it concretely to stop it. It has to be pursued actively. The abuse is not a reason to punish the people who really need the RSA to survive. The Collectivité feels it can cut the money because the RSA benefit is more than the minimum wage on the Dutch side."
On other decisions at the last Territorial Council, he said he objected to the way the increase in gasoline tax (doubled to 0.12 cents a litre) was handled as it was based on a report showing figures and profit margins from Dutch-side retailers, Guadeloupe, and St. Martin.
"But there were no figures showing profit margins in the column for St. Martin and that was what I needed to see. The gasoline retailers didn't get a chance to be heard first. And there is no guarantee retailers will not pass on the increase to the consumers."
A change in the car registration fee for a "carte grise" from a flat 150 euros regardless of vehicle to 36 euros per fiscal horsepower also did not sit well with the Councillor.
"Bigger cars and SUVs with more horsepower are going to be hit hard by this, take a Ford Explorer for example at, say 20 horsepower times 36 euros, they are going to be paying 720 euros. This is a huge and sudden increase. I argued why it cannot be introduced gradually seeing that the economy is still in a downturn. People need a break, not more taxes."
Commenting on the incident over protocol between Gendarmes and Dutch-side police escorts on St. Martin/St. Maarten Day, Charville said it was indeed embarrassing to all of the dignitaries present.
"It's a mystery to me that they did not let it go at that moment and discuss it later instead of causing that embarrassment," he said. "It could have been handled differently."
The Préfecture has since said the incident was a "misunderstanding."
The Daily Herald

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