Gov. Kenneth Mapp has asked the Economic Development Authority Board to reconsider the tax benefit package it approved for Secret Harbour Resort because it includes a provision for granting tax exemptions retroactively during a period when the resort was not in full compliance with its previous benefit agreement, according to Government House.
“In the application before me, Secret Harbour requests that the benefits be retroactively applied to 2011,” Mapp said in a letter to EDA, dated Thursday, explaining his reasoning. “Granting such a request would mean that the government would waive Secret Harbour’s tax obligation for the years 2011 to the present."
Secret Harbour had a 10-year period of tax benefits that expired in 2011 and, according to EDA, the resort did not comply with the terms of its tax benefit package during that period and never resumed paying taxes when its benefits expired.
“This application gives me pause in approving benefits primarily because I cannot agree to reward an entity for not fulfilling its obligations to the people of the Virgin Islands under its initial tax exemption certificate by granting benefits retroactively,” Mapp wrote. “If Secret Harbour pays all of the taxes and obligations due to the government during the period it did not have a tax exemption certificate, then I would be willing to grant new tax exemption benefits, prospectively. If we do anything else; why would Secret Harbour or any other EDC beneficiary fulfill its obligations under a new 10-year certificate of benefits?”
Mapp approved Carambola Resort’s request for benefits, but said he found the application puzzling because it is wholly owned by GERS and already exempt from paying taxes. He said the EDA application represented a waste of time and money.
In a statement, Mapp said GERS had a letter from the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue saying it does not have to pay taxes, so applying for benefits was a waste of GERS resources.
“It is clear that duplication, waste and uncertainty have pervaded the management of the GERS and so the EDA and I must spend unnecessary time going through this process as well. Like the VIBIR and the EDA; I too agree that the applicant is an entity of the government, which makes it exempt from the payment of taxes and accordingly approve Carambola’s application for EDC benefits,” Mapp wrote.