Sept. 30, 2004 Virgin Islanders may not receive their income taxes in a timely manner next year, if a budget passed by the Rules Committee Tuesday becomes law, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg said Wednesday.
"I've fought for five years on the people's behalf to ensure that money was set aside for tax refunds," Donastorg said in a release. "This matter resulted in a lawsuit that was settled only a few months ago, ensuring we would never again fall behind in the payment of refunds, and now amendments made yesterday put everyone's refund checks at risk."
Donastorg had sued the V.I. government to ensure that 10 percent of income tax collected was set aside for refunds as mandated by law. However, he dismissed the case in July after stating that the government had been complying. (See "Compliance with Law Cited as 1998 Tax Suit Dropped").
The Rules Committee unanimously approved on Tuesday an amendment sponsored by Senate President David Jones that would reduce the amount set aside from income tax for refunds to 5 percent from its current 10 percent.
Both public and private sector employees will be affected by this piece of legislation, Donastorg said.
"Government workers are entitled to the raises owed to them and their refund checks, but what about the private sector workers?" Donastorg asked. "This budget does not take their needs into consideration at all. On this course, income tax refunds will not be paid next year."
Donastorg also took issue with the committee's restoration of the vacant position cuts.
"We made precise, surgical cuts, eliminating positions that had been vacant for some time, and we did not touch public safety, emergency services or education," Donastorg said of the Finance Committee, which he chairs. "We trimmed the fat, and they threw it back in the pot."
Stating that what the Rules Committee had done is "voodoo economics," Donastorg said he would not support the fiscal year 2005 budget as amended.
The senators are expected to vote on the budget during full Senate session Thursday.
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