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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLAW MAKES CRIMINALS OF BUSINESS PEOPLE

LAW MAKES CRIMINALS OF BUSINESS PEOPLE

The acting commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has said that between 25 percent and 40 percent of business owners are operating their businesses without current business licenses due to the legal requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters before either
original or renewal business licenses are granted.
It seems to me that as a result of this unfortunate linkage, the law has transformed up to 40 percent of our business owners who are otherwise law-abiding Virgin Islanders into criminal violators of the law.
Is this fact as communicated by the acting commissioner not an unintended consequence of the hastily enacted linkage between these two distinctly separate issues? When this provision was passed into law, was it intended that business owners who, due to their personal circumstances, are unable to
obtain tax clearance letters, should shut down their businesses and send home their employees?
These are the actions that the logical extension of the application of this provision of law suggest.
Through this legislation, we have dumped into the same pot of governmental laws, rules and regulations, two issues that should be delinked and dealt with separately to promote both the government’s interests and those of businesses and their employees.
Even though the amnesty program is now in effect, the same requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters continues as a prerequisite for obtaining a business license. This provision of local law is bad law and its anti-business provisions should be repealed altogether.
Obtaining original or renewal business licenses and maintaining the employment of
employees should be separated from any unresolved tax problems that business owners might be experiencing.
As a community, we should be engaged in promoting a kinder and gentler, mutually supportive relationship between government law and policy and the business community in general and the small business community specifically, rather than frustrating those efforts as is apparently the case where, as a
result of this legislation, up to 40 percent of businesses are now deemed to be operating illegally.
Obviously the law is not fulfilling its intended purpose. Aggressive enforcement of the law bodes ill for both employers and employees.
Repeal this offending provision of local law!
Editor's note: Gaylord A. Sprauve of St. Thomas is a former V.I. government official and a businessman.

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The acting commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has said that between 25 percent and 40 percent of business owners are operating their businesses without current business licenses due to the legal requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters before either
original or renewal business licenses are granted.
It seems to me that as a result of this unfortunate linkage, the law has transformed up to 40 percent of our business owners who are otherwise law-abiding Virgin Islanders into criminal violators of the law.
Is this fact as communicated by the acting commissioner not an unintended consequence of the hastily enacted linkage between these two distinctly separate issues? When this provision was passed into law, was it intended that business owners who, due to their personal circumstances, are unable to
obtain tax clearance letters, should shut down their businesses and send home their employees?
These are the actions that the logical extension of the application of this provision of law suggest.
Through this legislation, we have dumped into the same pot of governmental laws, rules and regulations, two issues that should be delinked and dealt with separately to promote both the government’s interests and those of businesses and their employees.
Even though the amnesty program is now in effect, the same requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters continues as a prerequisite for obtaining a business license. This provision of local law is bad law and its anti-business provisions should be repealed altogether.
Obtaining original or renewal business licenses and maintaining the employment of
employees should be separated from any unresolved tax problems that business owners might be experiencing.
As a community, we should be engaged in promoting a kinder and gentler, mutually supportive relationship between government law and policy and the business community in general and the small business community specifically, rather than frustrating those efforts as is apparently the case where, as a
result of this legislation, up to 40 percent of businesses are now deemed to be operating illegally.
Obviously the law is not fulfilling its intended purpose. Aggressive enforcement of the law bodes ill for both employers and employees.
Repeal this offending provision of local law!
Editor's note: Gaylord A. Sprauve of St. Thomas is a former V.I. government official and a businessman.