Causeway ToT case likely to the tax court

POINTE BLANCHE—The question whether Turnover Tax (ToT) should be paid over the US $50 million Simpson Bay causeway project is at the center of a tug of war between the Government and the St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company (SHHC) N.V.
The issue is now likely to end up in the tax court.
SHHC’s request for exemption was denied in early 2013 and Finance Minister Martin Hassink subsequently was requested to reconsider. The Daily Herald was told by a reliable source that the request had been denied again around two months ago and that the official letter confirming this was expected soon.
Exemption from ToT was requested during the execution of the causeway project and, based on exemptions granted to similar but unrelated projects, SHHC confidently had assumed the request would be granted. The contract sum was based on this assumption.
According to SHHC’s Consolidated 2013 Financial Statements, which this newspaper has in its possession, the relevant authorities were requested to make the decision on the matter in 2011, but the request was denied only in early 2013.
ToT has not been paid in the meantime. The related debt that would be owed amounts to an estimated US $1.5 million to $2.5 million, according to the SHHC document.
SHHC would have to proceed to the tax court if it wishes to appeal the decision. This would have to be done within two months of the confirmation from the Tax Department and a final decision probably would be reached only in late 2015.
SHHC has argued, amongst other points, that it should not have to pay ToT because the project counts as infrastructural work being carried out by a government-owned entity and because similar projects were exempt from the tax in the past, such as the weather radar system installation projects at the St. Maarten and Curaçao airports.
These arguments were said to have resounded also with former minister of finance Hiroshi Shigemoto. However, his successors Roland Tuitt and Hassink did not hold the same views.
Minister Hassink could not be reached for comment on his position on the matter. 
the Daily Herald

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