The Goods and Services Tax Act of 2021 (GST) has impacted ‘every person and every class of person’ in Anguilla. 
What has been done to repeal GST so far?

Anguilla community leaders, spearheaded by members of the Concerned Citizens of Anguilla, sent letters to Her Excellency, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, Governor of Anguilla. The first asked to stay her hand of assent before learning she signed the bill less than 24 hours after the vote. Thereafter, requests for repeal were sent on behalf of thousands of petitioners and leading organisations across civil society, all fervently objecting to the law’s passage. After her refusal, an appeal was then escalated to the UK Secretary of State, whose office also refused to strike the law some 6 weeks after the appeal. In a follow-up survey of more than 500 respondents, 96% supported the next step: to fight to repeal this undemocratic, culturally intrusive law in court.
Why has the vote been described as ‘undemocratic’?

While the Deputy Governor (DG) and Attorney-General (AG) are members of the House of Assembly, throughout overseas territories, neither would customarily vote and certainly not for any highly controversial or broad-based law impacting the lives of all citizens. In fact, these un-elected appointees did not recuse themselves from voting on GST, an intensely politically charged and highly contentious fiscal measure: They chose instead to undermine the democratic will of Anguillians.

In total, 6 elected Ministers voted ‘no’; while 5 voted ‘aye’; however, the AG and DG votes over-rode the elected members, for a final count of 7 for passage, including 2 members appointed by the Governor. Many believe this act represented an affront that cannot be cured by the rhetorical regurgitation that the AG and DG are empowered to vote as members of the House.
Specifically, why did some call for the AG’s resignation after the GST vote?

Immediately before the vote, the Speaker asked the AG for advice on a call for a vote ‘by division’ in a private consultation; that meant that each member must individually say their vote out loud for all to hear. The Speaker adjourned the House and was joined by the AG for this purpose.  The AG returned to his seat, gave his advice to the House of Assembly and rather than abstain, proceeded to the astonishment of many, to cast an ‘aye’ vote that cancelled that of a duly elected member of the House. His action was widely seen as a serious conflict by any legal standard.
What is ‘public consultation’ and why is it a reason to demand GST repeal?

In Anguillian and British laws and parliamentary practices, there are standards to ensure that, if undertaken, efforts to inform and gather input from the public must be conducted with a genuine intent to incorporate such feedback and, if necessary, abandon one course of action for another that is amenable to those affected by it. The GST process fell short of giving meaningful information, gathering and acting on the input, and allowing adequate time for a full airing of issues raised in such consultations.
What were some of the ‘breaches’ of public consultation prior to GST passage?

In July 2019, the public consultation for the first phase of GST, the Interim Goods Tax (IGT), began with an announcement that the session was “not a consultation; the tax would be going into effect.”

Consultations conducted in early 2021 then withheld critical information needed for business planning, including the actual GST rate, registration requirements, and zero-rated and exempt supplies. Notably, they also withheld culturally alarming aspects of unlimited inspection powers, countless risks of criminal and civil penalties, months-long refund periods, and an open-ended framework subject to increases and changes ‘by regulation’ without public recourse or consultation.

Second, with respect to allowing time for public discourse following input, the current Premier asserted at a press conference that the bill would proceed to second and third readings 7 days after the last Select Committee hearing and two weeks before its report was tabled. This, after campaigning to prevent GST from ever being passed into law.

Third, the final bill was not shared with the public until the day after its passage, and only by Gazette.

Fourth, the final bill did not reflect feedback from the public consultations, including the hearings held by the Select Committee of the House of Assembly. 
After promising popular changes, how did the final legislation compare to the draft?

The final bill was more restrictive than the draft, not less. For example; a new clause requires pre-payment of 50% of any disputed amounts before they would be considered, along with lengthy review and settlement periods without limits, merely compounding interest on unpaid refunds.
How does the GST law infringe on our civil rights and privacy?

The law grants the Comptroller powers to conduct ‘routine audits’ that give tax officers freedom to inspect, copy and seize records or computers without a writ or any notice to ‘any taxable person or any other person’; this routs basic rights with respect to unreasonable search and seizure on one’s property.

Conversely, it allows the Comptroller to issue  a  ‘Notice to Give Evidence’ without a  writ from any court that compels any person ‘whether or not liable for the tax’ to appear before the Comptroller ‘on oath’ to provide information about themselves ‘or any other person’ or else risk severe consequences. In all, some 27 sections of the bill delineate such civil and criminal penalties.
Why have many described GST as a culturally intrusive and offensive law?

As Anguilla has a workforce of barely 5,000 people, including over 1,500 in public service and statutory bodies, and where so many share the same places of worship or may be from the same families, the freedom for tax officers to search a business unannounced and to inspect, copy, or seize records – or computers is culturally and extraordinarily humiliating, thereby flouting privacy rights and confidentiality not secured in such a close society.

Another such concern is that the law also requires that a taxable person ‘or any other person’ must retain 7 years of records documenting every transaction in their lives or be subject to penalties. The principal of a local commercial services firm has estimated that 80 percent of Anguillian enterprises could not comply with GST requirements, despite functioning effectively with customary business practices.
Are the GST rate of 13%, registration requirements and exemptions now final?

No. Although inserted in the final bill, a total of 25 sections are subject to change ‘by regulation’; the statute further allows that ‘any matters’ necessary or ‘convenient’ could be altered by regulation at any time. For any majority government, such changes can be made without public consultations in the House, Executive Council or by Gazette. Thus: the rate could go up; registration could include businesses of every class and size; and exemptions and zero-rated goods could be excluded; thereby, placing every transaction in the economy in the Comptroller’s hands to collect GST at every turn – whenever any administration wishes to demand higher taxes at any time.
Why should Anguilla be forced to adopt GST if no other Territory has GST/VAT?

“They’ve been pushing this a long time. Beyond its undemocratic passage, dysfunctional consultations, and every sector objecting to such a severe form of tax for a territory our size, I think they’re using Anguilla as a test case,” said Mitch Lake, a business leader and a founding member of the Concerned Citizens of Anguilla. “If we allow this to be forced on us, I fear a post-Brexit demand that all of the [British Overseas Territories] OTs must follow suit. I hope they will add their voices to help us stop this cruel tax. It would destroy any hopes for post-Covid tourism, cost us hundreds of jobs, and push more already struggling Anguillian families into poverty,” he added.
Is the letter to the Secretary of State available to the public?

The letter to Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon and the Rt Hon Dominic Raab was published in full by the independent newspaper, The Anguillian, on Friday, 17 September 2021, and may be viewed online at:

The letter has also been posted on the CCA Facebook page and may be requested by emailing: