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Trinidad and Tobago - Taxation

Personal taxation in Trinidad and Tobago works on two principles. The first is the source principle which is taxation on income which comes from within the country itself. The second is the residence principle, which taxes residents of the country on all their income earned worldwide.

A non-resident is someone who may earn money in the country but does not spend enough time living there to be classed as a resident. A resident is an individual who spends at least six months of the calendar year living in the country. If an individual visits the country for a short period of time and has some income arising from that visit they may be exempt from taxation, as their residency of another county may mean that they have to pay tax on that amount there. Trinidad and Tobago has a number of double taxation treaties in place with different states which help to prevent an individual paying more than one amount of tax on the same income.

All income which is earned in the territory including social security benefits may be taxable in the country. There are a number of personal allowances for taxation but only for residents, non-residents will pay tax on the full amount of money earned.

The employer is responsible for deducting tax payments from a worker’s salary, but the worker has to make sure that they are right. In order for the employer to do this properly, the worker must have completed a Tax Declaration Form when they began work and have a Board of Inland Revenue File Number. Workers that do not have this number – and this will be most expats when they arrive in the country – can apply for a number by completing an application form and sending it with a copy of the National Identification Card and a copy of the contract of employment.

The tax declaration form gives all the details that the employer needs to deduct the correct amounts and will list any allowances to which the individual is entitled. This may include allowances for buying a home for the first time, alimony or child maintenance payments or education expenses as well as the individual’s personal allowance. This form is submitted to the Inland Revenue department for approval. Approval may require additional documentation to back up the payments that are being made in any of these categories.

Workers whose employers make their tax deductions are not required to submit an income tax return. However, for any other type of income, a return must be filed with all the details on. When filing a return all supporting documentation must be filed at the same time. This may include details of travel expenses and details of dividend payments from shares. Payments are due at different times of year depending on how much is owed and the type of income it is.

If documentation is missing then the individual has time to send it in, but if they do not send it in within the allotted time they lose their right to that particular deduction. If the return is not signed then they are not permitted any allowances. When the return has been assessed if the individual does not agree with the amount payable they can lodge an objection and/or request a reassessment. Penalties are payable for any returns which are not filed or filed late. Continual refusal to file a return can lead to prosecution. Late payments are subject to interest charges.

There are no inheritance taxes applied in Trinidad and Tobago and capital gains are normally treated as standard income, although this depends upon the asset or property sold and the amount of money earned from it. VAT is applied to many goods and services in the country at a rate of 15%, although there are some items such as basic foodstuffs which are exempt.

Further details on income tax and payments can be obtained from the Ministry of Finance website and there are downloadable forms and information on how to complete an income tax return. Returns can be filed online and payments can also be made online. An individual’s personal allowances and tax rates change annually and the details are available from the website.

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