Barbados moves to curb vehicle import misdeclarations and under-invoicing

The government of Barbados may be losing millions of dollars annually in import duties and taxes because some car dealers and individuals importing vehicles are declaring them at unrealistically low values or incorrectly categorising them.

Under pressure from officially franchised vehicle dealers, minister of small business, entrepreneurship and commerce, Dwight Sutherland, has promised new legislation governing vehicle imports and assembly.

Meanwhile an investigation by Barbados Today suggests importers have been involved in misdeclaring and under-invoicing vehicles for years.

Legislative changes

New legislation governing vehicle imports and assembly would bring major changes to the island’s car dealerships as the authorities seek to put the brakes on irregularities and create a level playing field for both new and used-car dealers according to Sutherland.

The minister said in addition to legislation and a new policy to govern the importation and assembly of vehicles, issues relating to concessions and taxes on electric and hybrid vehicles would be examined.

Under pressure

Sutherland has been under pressure for more than a year from, amongst others, executives at Toyota dealer National Automotive Sales and Service Company (Nassco) who claim that some third-party vehicle importers were cheating the system

They said some vehicle importers that incorrectly categorised imported vehicles were partly responsible for the fall-off in their sale of new vehicles since 2017, which had declined some 16 per cent over recent years.

Investigations by Barbados Today meanwhile revealed that several cars imported over the past three years were either not being entered under the correct tariff heading or were being under-invoiced, and therefore importers were paying significantly lower taxes.

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