The Tax Administration of the Caribbean Netherlands (BCN) has acted upon a recommendation from the National Ombudsman and will continue to accept payments in cash. The consumer organization Unkobon had lodged a complaint following the BCN’s decision to close its cash payment facilities on Bonaire, whereupon the public would be required to make payments online or in person at a bank. Both options entail additional costs. The National Ombudsman determined that this decision ‘lacked due preparation’ due to the absence of acceptable alternatives.
The National Ombudsman’s involvement prompted the BCN to examine alternative arrangements which would not entail additional costs for its clients. It has reached an agreement with Girobank whereby the bank will not levy fees on cash payments made in favour of the BCN accounts it administers (which include those for local taxes, judicial penalties and child maintenance). The new arrangement took effect on 1 January.
A relatively large number of Bonaire’s citizens are in the lower income groups. Not all have ready access to the internet; some do not have a bank account. Upon receipt of a tax demand or penalty notice, these people must visit a bank and make an over-the-counter cash payment to be credited to the relevant BCN account. The bank makes a charge for this service. The National Ombudsman concluded that the BCN did not take the interests of the citizen adequately into account when preparing the decision to withdraw cash payment facilities at its own offices. The Ombudsman is gratified to learn that an alternative has now been implemented.