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Online tax lawsuit set for July 21

JADA LOUTOO Saturday, March 25 2017

A DATE has been set for the trial of six leading courier companiesí challenge to the implementation of the seven percent online purchase tax (OPT) by the Ministry of Finance.

Justice Ricky Rahim has set July 21 for trial, after attorneys for the courier companies and the Ministry of Finance agreed to a timetable for the filing of evidence and legal authorities to support their respective positions on the issue.

Rahim had granted the six courier companies leave to have the court review the decision of the government to implement the tax.

Ecouriers Ltd, Websource, Jet Box International, Aeropost, CSF Couriers and Caribbean Shipping Agencies are contending that the ministerís decision to implement the tax, which came into effect on October 20 last year after the national budget, was irrational, wholly unreasonable and disproportionate to any aim of the State and was done without adequate consultation.

They also contend they were not given a fair opportunity to be heard before the imposition of the tax and this was in violation of the principles of procedural fairness.

They are seeking declarations that their rights were violated by the minister when he implemented the tax and that they were unfairly discriminated against.

The fiscal measure was announced by the Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, in September last year in the 2016-2017 budget statement.

Imbert said then that the new tax would be imposed on purchases that arrived in TT through courier companies or were brought in directly by individuals via air freight.

This measure, he said, was expected to raise an additional $70 million revenue.

Representing the courier companies are attorneys Keith Scotland, Joel Roper, Gideon McMaster and Jacqueline Chang, while the Minister of Finance is represented by Senior Counsel Martin Daly and Jason Mootoo.

Representing the AG are attorneys Michael Quamina and Sean Julien, who also instructs Daly for the Finance Minister

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