One-year imprisonment for failure to pay taxes

A BA businessman was recently sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for failing to file income tax returns and value added tax (VAT) returns.

Suresh Prasad was sentenced at the Suva Magistrates Court after facing six counts of failure to file income tax returns and 13 counts of failing to file VAT returns.

The hallmark judgement is also understood to be the first time a taxpayer had been given a jail term for failing to file tax returns.

While sentencing Prasad, Magistrate Jioji Boseiwaqa said taxpayers who evaded paying taxes should not expect any mercy from the court.

“This sentence should be a deterrent to any future offenders,” Mr Boseiwaqa said.

“The tax laws of this country are to be adhered to or face the penalty including custodial sentences.”

Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) chief executive officer Visvanath Das said the case was an example of how non-compliant taxpayers would be dealt with under the law.

“This should be a disincentive to those who even think that they can get away with beating the tax system,” Mr Das said.

“With a strong emphasis on voluntary compliance this year, Revenue and Customs is now concentrating on taxpayers who have not been compliant with their obligations. Given the low tax rates, and the economic buoyancy, if taxpayers continue to beat the tax system by being non-compliant, they will have to face the full brunt of the law.”

Mr Das also reiterated the importance of the public seeking assistance from Revenue and Customs if they are unsure of their tax obligations.

“We want to further enhance tax transparency and voluntary compliance thus creating a level playing field for all taxpayers,” he said.

“We are here to serve the public and Revenue & Customs is encouraging taxpayers who may be unsure of their tax status or obligations, to call or visit our nearest office or alternatively visit our website for more information.”

Mr Das said they were also actively engaging and providing information to individuals, businesses and sectoral agencies as we focus our efforts on encouraging and supporting voluntary compliance in Fiji.

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