Small businesses in Grand Bahama get VAT return ready

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The latest ‘bootcamp’ presented by 2B’s Productions was successfully completed last week at an all-day seminar held at the Pelican Bay Resort.  Local Grand Bahamian businesspersons learned how to complete their first VAT return, which for most small businesses will be after the first quarter of the year.

The bootcamps were started by businesswomen and entrepreneurs, Sarah Kirkby of Barefoot Marketing and Leigh Termath of Bahama Buy and Sell, in response to the need for practical information about VAT.

In the first part of the seminar, Chartered Accountant Christopher Baker, a local accountant and VAT expert, went over the official VAT return forms, which must be filled out online on the Government of the Bahamas’ website. He showed all the various requirements that are needed in order to successfully and correctly complete the forms.

It became apparent to all attending the seminar, that completing the forms required careful record-keeping and analysis of a company’s accounting, along with creating and maintaining worksheets in order to create accurate figures for the VAT returns.

Given that most businesses in Grand Bahama operate within the confines of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, as a Licensee of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, they learned that completing the forms required different reporting than the rest of the businesses in The Bahamas. Baker showed examples of worksheets companies could create in order to arrive at the information needed to complete the VAT returns.

One of the facilitators of the bootcamp, Leigh Termath said, “Even though I am very well versed in most things VAT, I learned so much with the morning accounting session. I was very surprised at how much information the Government is requiring from us. It is quite amazing the level of detail they are expecting. It has caused a complete shift in the way I do my accounting and definitely requires more work than before.”

In the afternoon, Termath outlined the latest information from the government about fines; compliance and specific procedures a businesses should review in order to ensure that they are operating correctly under the new TAX regime. The attendees, comprising of businesses owners, managers and their accountants, were able to ask questions and share their experiences with VAT so far.

Sarah Kirkby, the moderator for the seminar, felt that this setting enhanced the learning experience. “We were able to have good back and forth dialogues between the presenters and the audience and this enabled the attendees to learn even more through each other’s experiences. It was a very supportive environment and we certainly need that in order to navigate through the VAT process.”

The session also included a visit by leading GB broker, Merrill Dorsett, of M and M Brokers, who used his experience as a former Customs Officer, to lend insight into how Customs works. He explained that businesses should become familiar with rates of duties, certificates of origin, and all the rules surrounding importing in order to ensure they are being charged the correct amount of duty and VAT on their imported items.

The Government’s VAT department is currently offering seminar’s on VAT return on various islands and 2B’s Productions references the VAT’s interactive website as an excellent reference tool. The bootcamp series focuses on practical and thorough information that not only includes the financial information of how to “do VAT”, but also best business practices on how to implement it into your business so that you can ensure its future success.

While an additional date has not been set for a repeat of this seminar, interested person can register on a waitlist at Barefoot Marketing at 352-4578.

New Bootcamp Seminar: Learn How to File your VAT Returns

Sarah and Leigh

Now that the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) has commenced, from January 1, 2015, businesses have been dealing with this new regime, with varying levels of success. Their direction is now focused towards filing the first VAT return, which, for most, will be in April.

To this end, a new VAT “Bootcamp” is being held on Thursday February 19, to facilitate this process. This is part of the popular Bootcamp Series, which started in November 2014. The Bootcamps were started by 2 B’s productions, comprising of Sarah Kirkby of Barefoot Marketing and Leigh Termath of Bahama Buy and Sell. These two business women were responding to the needs of their clients who were looking for practical information about VAT.

To date, over 100 businesses have attended their seminars and have been armed with the information needed to register for VAT and implement it within their company’s operations.

The implementation of VAT has been met with varying levels of success, when companies were faced with specific instances that did not necessarily fit the standard regime of VAT. There have been, across The Bahamas, thousands of instances of concern by businesses, which probably could not have been known until they saw how VAT calculations would affect their pricing and daily operations.

The cry for help continues, especially when being faced with the first VAT Return, where businesses must file a return that details their Input Tax paid and Output Tax charged. Many people are concerned about whether they have been keeping their records correctly.

The VAT Returns Bootcamp will address these issues. The full day seminar will start with updates that have been implemented since January 1, that businesses may not be aware of.

Then, accountant Christopher Baker of HLB Galanis & Co., will go over accounting records to ensure that attendees are doing everything correctly. It is especially important to be addressing this now, so that when it comes time to file a return, all information is in place. It would be very inconvenient if people discovered that they were keeping inaccurate records and have to go back and correct three months worth of information. Mr. Baker is a UK trained chartered accountant who has immersed himself in the VAT process for his local clients in Grand Bahama. The seminar is a great opportunity to have the consultancy of a top accountant on the island to address any particular issues.

Attendees will also be guided through the process of filing a return, step by step, using Bahamas Government videos and real examples to help them see how they will use their own records to complete a return.

In addition, a top broker will be on hand to discuss how Customs duties and the implementation of them have changed.

The seminar is limited to 75 spaces. The first seminar, held in November, sold out, and this is expected to as well, as most of those same people are expected to continue their VAT education with this one. Interested persons should contact Barefoot Marketing at 352-4578 to find out more and to register.

Seats are limited but space is still available, interested persons should contact Barefoot Marketing at 352-4578 or email contact@barefootmarketing.net .