Tax Issues Among Topics at Democratic Legislative Forum | Guam News

Reducing the business privileges tax and whether the Legislature should only sit part-time were some of the topics discussed at the You Decide legislative forum for Democratic candidates on Thursday. The forum was organized by Guam Young Professionals, a committee of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. He followed the Republican forumwhich took place at the end of last month.

The forum addressed a number of issues, ranging from economic issues to crime statistics. The questions were asked by lot and the candidates had one minute and 30 seconds to answer.

The question of whether the BPT should be reduced to 4% was posed to Senator Sabina Perez and candidate Roy Gamboa. The cut is an ongoing concern for the chamber, which has repeatedly asked senators to implement the tax cut. The BPT was raised to 5% in 2018 to combat the effects of Trump’s tax cuts. Candidates were also asked how they would ensure that government services were not affected if they backed the rollback.

Perez said she would assess support for the reduction if a funding source could be found to offset the reduction.

“I think one of the avenues … is to assess the use tax, which according to the public auditor we are under collecting about $60 million and more. That $60 million could be used to reduce taxes and potentially other needs in our community, … so that’s something I’m open to looking at,” Perez said.

Gamboa said he didn’t believe he could support a rollback because “90% of small businesses have already been taken out.” He seemed to be referring to a recently enacted law that only imposes a 3% BPT for companies that make up to $500,000 in gross revenue. It is estimated that this exemption covers approximately 90% of all small businesses on the island.

“So rolling it back further would mean that 10% of businesses that make more than $500,000 a year would get that benefit. … What that would do is increase the burden on small businesses to stay open and maintain the “Island in a very competitive state. I support small businesses and what they’re trying to do, … so as it stands, that’s where I agree with Senator Sabina Perez, where we can look at other ways to increase revenue coming in. That way more services can be provided by our government agencies,” Gamboa said.

Candidates Fred Bordallo Jr., Darrel “Chris Malafunkshun” Barnett and Roy Quinata were asked if they support converting the BPT to a sales tax. Bordallo said he preferred to keep a BPT.

“When I look at sales taxes, they impact consumers. And sometimes they can actually, there’s a fear factor in consumers every time they see sales tax increases. “, Bordallo said. “I actually want to get rid of the sales tax and keep the (BPT), but just make sure it’s affordable, … balancing that with government services.”

There is no sales tax in Guam. However, legislation that increased the BPT in 2018 also created a 2% sales tax. At the time, the rate hike was to be temporary, with the sales tax taking effect after the tax increase expired. But the sales tax was later repealed and the BPT hike became permanent.

Quinata, on the other hand, said he believes transparency begins and ends with a sales tax, adding that he believes Guam could capture more funding and resources with the conversion.

“Because everything will be reported, … There’s a lot of cash business transactions that, like, work their way through the government. And I understand that there are small businesses that are just trying to get started, but to many other companies are also trying to work their way through the government to pay a minimum and avoid taxes,” Quinata said. He added that while he would support the proposal, he felt more research was needed. on the matter if presented.

Barnett said “hell no” to the conversion. Referring to an initial question about tackling the rising cost of living, Barnett said taxes are bad and a moratorium on government fee increases should also be implemented.

“I believe the relationship with business and government throughout the pandemic has been very adversarial. So I want to sit business down with the Legislative Assembly and have an honest conversation without either side digging into each other. heels in the sand. And I think that’s really the only way forward,” Barnett said.

He joined President Therese Terlaje in rejecting the idea of ​​a part-time legislature. Terlaje said moving the legislature to part-time would weaken its ability to provide checks and balances to the executive and judiciary.

“I think legislatures need to get intimately acquainted with problems that go on for years and won’t be solved by quick-fix legislation, … and listening part-time is not good representation,” Terlaje said, adding that legislators must serve all the people of Guam. time and not bend to particular interests.

Barnett said he was “totally opposed” to a part-time legislature and believed the body should revert to 21 senators from 15 today.

“Just to expand on the speaker’s point, when you say the Legislative Assembly is the house of the people, … with only 15 senators, too much power is concentrated in too few hats,” Barnett said.

“We’re not facing part-time issues. The issues that we’re facing, I think, warrant a return to 21 senators. Before you pick me up, just realize that the legislative budget, when you look at the whole government, it’s really just a drop in the bucket. We’ve kind of got into the habit of demonizing our senators, … But as the speaker said, I think that checks and balances are one of the most important roles and I’m not sure we get what we pay for with 15 senators,” he added.

Other candidates who participated in the forum were William Parkinson, Kelly Marsh, Dwayne San Nicolas, Senator Joe San Agustin, Alexander Duenas, Jonathan Savares, Sarah Thomas Nededog, John Ananich and David Duenas.