Confusion over taxes at Caymanas Park
Mass confusion has engulfed the horseracing industry since Finance Minister Peter Phillips announced in Parliament what was termed as "removal of duties on racehorse breeding stock", effective April 1.
Ambiguities in Minister Phillips' Budget text and his presentation last Thursday have left many in the industry clueless as to which category of horses stand to benefit from a 35-percentage points reduction in import taxes.
Whereas the minister announced a reduction in "horses for breeding purposes", the likes of trainers Philip Feanny and Andrew Nunes have pointed out that there exists no tariff on horses imported for breeding.
"There is no duty on horses imported for breeding," Feanny explained on Thursday. "What exists is a 40 per cent tax on all horses imported for racing," he pointed out.
The Customs Tariff Act supports Feanny's claim, showing, 'pure-bred breeding horses' as 'free'. The 2014 amendment lists 'racehorses not for breeding' at 40 per cent duty.
The finance minister's prepared text, which he presented in Parliament, suggested that it was this category of horses which would benefit from a 35-percentage point reduction, down from 40 to five per cent.
However, a glaring ambiguity existed as the heading of his presentation stated, 'Removal of duties on breeding stock', whereas the actual text read, 'The category of horses which presently attracts a tariff of 40 per cent will be subject to a lower tariff of five per cent. This category previously attracted a tariff of 40 per cent.'
Donovan Nelson, communications adviser to Minister Phillips, when alerted to the inconsistencies, insisted the duty on horses imported for racing would not have been reduced, promising to "make checks" with the relevant persons.
On the contrary, Caymanas Track Limited's (CTL) Chief Executive Officer Cedric Stewart said his interpretation was, as suggested in Phillips text, that it would be the category of horses affected by the 40 per cent duty - those imported for racing - which would benefit from the reduction in tariff.
However, CTL, in a Gleaner half-page advert on Tuesday, thanked the "Government of Jamaica for ... reducing the duty from 40 to five per cent on horses imported for breeding".
Meanwhile, Feanny, a 14-time champion trainer and breeder, explained the lobby which had led to the minister's announcement.
"The agreement was that breeding stock would come in duty free but pay GCT, as it already does, that's mares and stallions imported for breeding purposes. For the racing stock, fillies and colts, 40 per cent would remain on colts but the fillies would be reduced to five per cent."
Meanwhile, Nelson, up to press time, had failed to respond to The Gleaner's queries, promising an indefinite "whenever I get the information".