Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

After suffering through another tax season and rushing to pay our income taxes before the April 30 deadline, I thought I would take a look at the “return” on our taxes.

The biggest benefit Roatanians, Honduran biggest per capita tax payers is an understaffed, severely underfunded hospital we have had for the past 22 years. The new hospital under construction in Dixon Cove is being privately funded.

The most confusing and mysterious tax we pay is the security tax. This puzzling tax is automatically taken from our bank accounts, it’s two Lempiras per every thousand and goes to some government trust managed by some committee. Nobody has been able to give any public accounting for how much these taxes amount to.

The current government touts itself for transparency and they have a very pretty website that shows the projects that have been done with the funds, for example the car rentals for the police vehicles. Nowhere can I find the amount of money that is actually coming in or has come in since the project’s inception in 2011. Back then it was sold to the public as a temporary measure to build up the security forces and only later expanded to 10 years. I’m taking bets on it being extended another 10 years when it’s up. I’ll give you great odds. The last decree I found on this tax states the a special committee for the government trust is obligated to deliver a report on these taxes to another special congressional committee on security. Maybe our congressman could help with this.

The most confusing and mysterious tax we pay is the security tax

From a legal standpoint it’s impossible to get a RTN (tax registry number) on the island. It’s difficult at best and expensive at worse to get one on the mainland and they make you jump through many hoops to get it. If you’re a foreigner in a corporation forget about it. You need powers of attorney and notarized copies or original documents, an RTN and ID on each partner, the sacrifice of a virgin and a couple hundred bucks.

Here’s the kicker, the new tax laws state very clearly that the RTN for any business should be issued with the registry of the corporation, no further requirements. The new practices by the SAR are arbitrary and not founded in the law.

Speaking of laws, let’s talk about the new tax code; you would need to be an accountant, an attorney and clairvoyant to understand it. I did what any rational person would do and took a course with an expert who consulted for the government on this new law and had previously worked with the DEI. I asked the pertinent questions regarding the taxes affecting our local businesses, specifically real estate, and left more confused than when I started. So from my research and the “expert” opinion we are in the dark.

Here’s a list of some of the other taxes that will affect your day to day life and that don’t not just roll around once a year: Sales Tax (15% on food and 18% on alcohol and tobacco, 19% on tourism), Local Municipal Personal Tax and operating licenses, Municipal property taxes and Sales Taxes, Capital Gains Tax (on the mainland 10% and on Bay Islands 4%), Security Tax, Vehicle Registration Tax, Parrot Registry Tax, Import Taxes, Transfer Taxes on Land Sales, as well as local municipal tax on the same sale and registry fees for this same sale for title registry. There is also the very controversial 1.5% income tax law that was reformed in April.

The sad part is, with all the taxes we Roatanians pay, we don’t even have a local tax office we can present our complaints to. Then we might regret what we wish for: they just might have to introduce another tax to build one.