Guyana Tax Law Research Guide

Legal Structure

 

Guyana’s laws are compiled into bound volumes titled “Laws of Guyana,” with periodic updates published as supplements. These volumes are not readily available and not routinely kept current. To be formally effective, a law must be submitted to the Council of Ministers (“Cabinet”), then tabled in Parliament, then enacted, and then published in the Gazette. The publication requirement is not always met. Enforcement of a law that has not been published is impermissible, and Guyana authorities are aware of at least one recent instance in which publication was delayed until nearly a year after enactment.

 

Legislation in the nature of regulatory rules takes two forms. Orders are the more formal, requiring the same process as a law but with a lower level of scrutiny in Parliament. Regulations are issued by the Minister (in the case of tax regulations, by the Minister of Finance); because they are not enacted by Parliament they are interpretive in nature and therefore not binding on a court (although generally respected).

 

 

Location of Tax Law Resources

 

            Guyana’s tax administration is carried out through the Guyana Revenue Authority, which directs Customs and Internal Revenue. The Revenue Authority’s supervising agency is a Board with offices called the “Secretariat.” Based at the Secretariat at Lamaha and East Streets, Georgetown are Guyana’s tax litigation office (called the “Legal Section”) and its tax resource library. This library is kept well-organized, but is not current. The Guyana Court has a law library that includes tax materials, and this library is open to members of the Guyana bar. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel, located in a separate building, has collected many laws over the years but does not have a formal library and its resources are not generally available for use by outsiders.

 

            In general there are serious barriers in Guyana to access to the laws. Aside from the physical problem of limited library resources, it appears that copies the published laws and amendments are either unavailable for purchase or are very expensive. A government official explained that the government has contracted with a private publisher to produce the texts of enactments, but that the price charged for each is extremely high, with the result that private lawyers do not routinely purchase copies of new laws, even those in their areas of practice. It also appears that few subscribe to the Gazette (presumably for the same reason). Government offices are provided with some copies of the Gazette, but tax officials seem to experience great difficulty in obtaining additional copies of either the print version or of the CD-ROM. It may be that the high price charged to the public for the published laws has resulted in tight restrictions on the number of copies available to government officials. Some officials stated that they were not able to obtain a copy of a law relevant to their work.

 

            The accessibility issue is mitigated by the existence of the Revenue Authority’s website.

 

Guyana Revenue Authority’s Website

The Guyana Revenue Authority’s website, www.revenuegy.org is a helpful informational guide to Guyana’s tax laws. It is aimed at the general public. It cites and explains the laws imposing tax. It also includes (in pdf format) the text of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01, revised to 2001, and officials report that the Customs regulations through 2002 will be posted in the near future. Other tax laws are not available on the website.

 

            The website provides an overview of tax administration structure, office locations and contact information. It provides information relating to the Tax and Customs laws under the subhead ‘Internal Revenue’ and ‘Customs’ respectively. Under the ‘Internal Revenue’ subhead, guides can be found on the law relating to Property Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Deductions from Income under the Pay As You Earn System and the Income Tax law as it relates to self-employed persons. These guides are also available in booklet form from the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Library situated in the Secretariat Building at Lamaha and East Streets, Georgetown.

Under the ‘Customs’ head, the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01, revised to 2001, incorporating all amendments to the Act made to 2001, can be viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader and can be downloaded from the Guyana Revenue Authority’s website. We are in the process of putting the Customs Regulations made under the Customs Act Chapter 82:01 and revised to year 2002, on the Guyana Revenue Authority’s website. Summarized information on the Consumption Tax Chapter 80:02 is also found under the Customs subhead. Leaflets on the Consumption Tax are available at the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Library.

On the Guyana Revenue Authority’s website, a subhead, ‘Major Taxes and Due Dates’ provides information on major taxes administered by the Internal Revenue and the Customs and Trade Administration and the due dates for remittance of the taxes (direct and indirect taxes) are provided.

Under the subset ‘Who We Are’, the website also provides information on what the organization does, the organization’s mission, vision, structure, location of offices and the management team. Under the subset ‘Supporting Divisions’, links are provided to the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Annual Report, which is under construction, and the Guyana Revenue Authority’s quarterly newsletter.

The site allows users to make contact with the organization through its e-mail address gra@revenueegy.org. All information on the site is in English.

Other Agencies

Information and copies of tax, company, securities, and certain other laws can be obtained from Ram and McRae, Chartered Accountants (website www.ramandmcrae.com). Ram and McRae has also published a Handbook on the Companies Act, 1991. The Attorney General’s Chambers also provides information on the tax laws, as does the Legislative Section of the Parliament Office, located at Parliament Buildings, Stabroek, Georgetown.

Administrative Material

On the Guyana Revenue Authority’s website (www.revenuegy.org), information is also available on procedures for obtaining a Motor Vehicle License and the Employer’s Return. Information on these and similar procedures (for example, the Tax Practice Certificate and the Compliance Certificate) is available in leaflets available from the Guyana Revenue Authority’s library located in the Secretariat building at Lamaha and East Streets.

Tax Laws

Tax Act, Chapter 80:01

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

Act No. 17 of 1997 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1997

Consumption Tax Act Chapter 80:02

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

[also amended previously]

Travel Voucher Tax Act, Chapter 80:09

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

Order No. 10 of 1987

Order No. 13 of 1989

Order No.3 of 1993

Income Tax Act, Chapter 81:01

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

Act No. 3 of 1996 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1996

Act No. 17 of 1997 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1997

Regulation 10 of 1999 — Income Tax (Depreciation Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 1999

Act No. 6 of 2000 — Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2000

Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act, Chapter 81:02

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

Act No. 18 of 1998—Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) (Amendment) Act 1998

Act No. 16 of 1999 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1999

Corporation Tax Act, Chapter 81:20

Amended by:

Act No. 3 of 1996 - Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1996

Property Tax Act, Chapter 81:21

Amended by:

Act No. 16 of 1999 - Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act 1999

Customs Act, Chapter 82:01

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

[also amended previously]

Revenue Authority Act 1996

Amended by:

Order No. 2 of 2000 — Revenue Authority (Specifying of Laws) Order 1999

Order No. 4 of 2000 — Revenue Authority (Specifying of Laws) (Amendment) Order 2000

Deceased Persons’ Estates Administration Act, Chapter 12:01 revised to 1998

Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Chapter 51:02

Miscellaneous Licenses Act, chapter 80:04

Steam Boiler Act, Chapter 95:04

Huckster Licensing & Control Act, Chapter 91:06

Coconut Products (Control) Act, Chapter 69:05

Balata Act, Chapter 69:07

Soap Act, Chapter 95:06

Pawnbroking Act, Chapter 91:09

Auctioneers Act, Chapter 91:07

Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act Chapter 51:02

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

[also amended previously]

Tax-Related Laws

Financial Administration and Audit Act Chapter 73:01

Amended by:

Act No. 15 of 2003 — Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2003

[also amended previously]

 

[Prepared by Jennifer Brooks]