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The Bahamas Release Revised VAT Rules

On 23 July 2014, the government of the Bahamas released a revised rules for value added tax (VAT), which will be implemented in the country from 1 January 2015. VAT will apply to the supply of most goods and services in the country, including imports.  Goods exported are generally exempted or zero-rated.

The key revisions include:

VAT Rate and Registration

  • The VAT rate is set at 7.5% as in the 2014/2015 budget, instead of the 15% rate originally proposed
  • The pricing of goods and service must be VAT inclusive
  • The VAT registration threshold is uniformly set at BSD 100,000 - originally, a reduced threshold of BSD 50,000 applied for some professional services and hotels
  • Group registration for related group companies and consolidated VAT returns are allowed
  • VAT tax identification numbers (TIN) may be issued to businesses even if they do not qualify to register for VAT

VAT Exemptions

  • The list of VAT exempt goods is removed completely
  • The scope of exempt financial services is narrowed to include just lending and savings products issued by banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions
  • The exemption on education services is limited to include only tuition-funded courses of study for enrolled students in pre-school, primary and secondary school; and in programs of study leading to the award of a graduate or undergraduate degrees at the tertiary level
  • The exemption for healthcare is limited to public clinics and hospitals that provide free healthcare services

VAT Return Filing

  • Business with sales exceeding BSD 5 million will file monthly
  • Business with sales from BSD 400,000 to BSD 5 million will file quarterly
  • Business with sales under BSD 400,000 will file semi-annually
  • Returns can be filed up to 28 days following the relevant period
  • A simplified filing of VAT returns on a cash accounting basis is allowed for Business with sales under BSD 400,000

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