National Assembly approves three bills |07 December 2023
The National Assembly yesterday waived the seven days’ notice requirement for the second reading of three bills, to allow the House to debate and approve the bills.
These were the Revenue law (amendment) Bill 2023, the Financial Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Beneficial Ownership (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
All three Bills were presented by Vice-President Ahmed Afif. The first one, namely the Revenue law (amendment) Bill 2023, incorporated amendments of four tax laws namely the Revenue Administration Act, Income and Non-Monetary Benefits Tax Act, Business Tax and Tourism Marketing Tax.
Mr Afif explained the objective of those amendments was to support the implementation of the Tax Management System (TMS), introduced last year.
For the Revenue Administration Act, the government was updating the definition of ‘returns’ to allow the introduction of new forms namely a withholding tax remittance form submitted under Business Tax Act, and a Payroll Withholding statement under the Income and Non-Monetary Benefits Tax Act, explained Mr Afif.
The government was also amending the definition of ‘revenue decision’ to include the Environment Protection (Tourism Environmental Sustainability Levy) following the introduction of the Tourism Environmental Sustainability Levy.
Another amendment relates to the date taxpayers have to submit their monthly returns, either in person or online. “If they do it in person, then it should not be later than the 21st of each month, while online it should not be later than 23rd of the month. Those making payments of R50,000 and above will have to use the online platform only,” explained Mr Afif.
Amendment related to the Income and Non-monetary Benefits Tax Act concerns the way the form should be filled in monthly. Instead of being called a withholding tax statement it will now be referred to as a payroll withholding tax, said the vice-president. Another amendment is to replace section 73 of the Business Tax to allow a person withholding tax to submit a withholder’s tax remittance form within a period of time and a form prescribed.
“We have changed it because although it states the person can submit the form to the commissioner general within two months before the end of the year, or within the time prescribed by the commissioner general, the person has to submit the form before the 21st of each month. So this was to correct the language.”
With regard to the Tourism Marketing Act, an amendment proposed is that a person who submits a return during the year will be considered as he or she has done their self-assessment on their turnovers. They will also now have a form for declaration of their taxes. They were previously filling in a business activity statement.
For the second Bill of the day, namely the Financial Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the vice-president explained that the amendment was under four tax laws related to two government policies namely renewable energy and tourism environmental sustainability levy.
With regard to the renewable energy, VP Afif said government wants to encourage more investment in the sector. “That is why we are increasing what we call ‘carry forward losses’, for businesses producing renewable energy. So compared to entities in other sectors that benefit with a ‘carry forward loss’ for a five-year period, those in the renewable energy business will have the ‘carry forward losses’ up until ten years,” explained Mr Afif.
He said to be able to incorporate this into the law, the government would have to amend Section 25, to add a new provision for ‘carry forward losses’.
With regard to the other one relating to the tourism environmental sustainability levy to ensure it was not included in their turnover or assessable income, the government was amending the definition of turnover and assessable income in the related laws.
These are under Section 11 of Business Tax, Section 3 of Value-Added tax and Section 2 of Tourism Marketing tax and Section 3 of the Accommodation Turnover Tax Act, explained MrAfif.
The second amendment relates to commission charged by booking platforms, where government wants to ensure the booking platforms do not charge the commission on any VAT as well.
For the third Bill – the Beneficial Ownership (Amendment) Bill, 2023 – the government has given another 12 months, until December next year, for the legal persons and legal arrangements to come into conformity with new obligations under Section 5.1A, which calls for the inclusion of ID and tax identification number (TIN).
It was supposed to come into force next month but according to Mr Afif, the industry has found it difficult to gather all relevant information and has raised several concerns such as short time to create awareness and share information with clients in the industry, to allow modification of system and procedures of CSPs, to collect new additional information.
Secondly there was no legislation to protect information in Seychelles and with the approval of the Data protection bill this week, this concern will be addressed.