Question: A lot of concerns have been expressed about the visible Gross Receipts Tax. What is your opinion on the matter?

• Speaker Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada:
"I think the law is clear with regards to how you will treat it. I think the confusion has arrived because individuals, businesses are not explaining it adequately. The attorney general has issued an opinion on it, there's an example on the proper way to implement -- that as a matter of fact appeared on the front page of the PDN -- and I think if everybody just follows that example on the front page of the PDN, there would be no confusion."

• Vice Speaker Frank Aguon Jr., D-Yona:
"Because I've heard serious concerns from both sides in the business community -- in terms of those who favor it and those who don't -- I think what is very important here is that we bring all parties together in a round table discussion and come up with an amicable solution."

• Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, D-Mangilao:
"I share the same sentiments as my colleagues. If the main intent of the bill was followed to a T, then we wouldn't have a problem -- it's unfortunate that some of our vendors took advantage of this course. Based on the bill and its intent, if the vendors had properly followed it -- with the example recently given in the PDN -- I think they won't have a problem. So customers won't be taken advantage of."

• Sen. Randall Cunliffe, D-Tamuning:
"I think the problem with the visible GRT is that it allows people to increase their prices by 6 percent. They had a price that was on the sticker that included the 6 percent and then when you said you can put it visibly, they just took that price and they added 6 percent to it. So I think it's been a mistake and I think we need to correct it."

• Sen. Carmen Fernandez, D-Yona:
"I think it needs to be ... consistent with its limitations so that there can be a clear understanding. I think because it's affecting our tourists we need to very, very carefully re-evaluate it to ensure that it's consistent and it's clear because there was a report made by (Guam Visitors Bureau) that we may be losing interest from the tourist side because of the implications of it. So I really want to take care of that problem."

• Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero, D-Tamuning:
"I completely support the visible GRT. As the good speaker said in the hearing, that really is a positive thing for the businesses because it will remove the tax on tax and I think that should be a very persuasive issue with the business people."

• Sen. John Quinata, D-Talofofo:
"I support the visible GRT. The only difference now is that businesses are abusing or taking advantage of the visible GRT. They're misinterpreting what the intent of the Legislature is. You have the AG's opinion; he gave examples of how to implement the visible GRT, and if everybody follows that there should be no confusion out there."

• Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Chalan Pago/Ordot:
"The businesses have clearly implemented this law in a manner by which it favors them economically. The intent of the visible GRT was to allow businesses to show exactly what they are charging for Gross Receipts Taxes and they would get breaks from the government for doing so. What they've done is, rather than lowering their price by 4 percent and adding 6 percent at the point of sale, essentially they just created a 10-percent sales tax."

• Sen. Toni Sanford, D-Agana Heights:
"The visible GRT is fine the way it is if people would just follow the intent of the law. I think the greatest injustice is for the consumers to see a tag price when they go to the register and find that there's another price. I think that there are some vendors on this island, local vendors that have been here a long time, that understand the intent of the law and follow it. If others would follow in their steps, I think it would be a non-issue."

• Sen. Joanne Brown, R-Chalan Pago/Ordot:
"I'm open to looking at the issue because I know that some concern has been raised with regards to Guam's 'duty-free' image. I mean, either way the GRT is paid but I'm certainly open to listening to concerns the business community has about it. It does put an interesting perspective on the possibility of a future sales tax because of the concern about the visible GRT."

• Sen. Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana
"There's going to have to be amendments to make sure that the problems that are occurring right now don't occur. You can't have a situation where the law is being interpreted in five different ways by 12 different people -- in some places they are charging one rate and in other places they are charging a different rate. We are going to have to go back to the law and make changes so that if it's going to be applied in a visible manner, that it's done in a way that makes sense across the board and does not result in higher prices."

• Sen. Larry Kasperbauer, R-Dededo
"My concern is that the customer need not pay any more than they need to pay. As I see it, we don't need it. It won't make things cost less and it only seems to be adding confusion."

• Sen. Robert Klitzkie, R-Yigo
"I've heard a lot of concerns expressed so I'm going to maintain an open mind on the visible GRT."

• Sen. Jesse Lujan, R-Tamuning, is off island.

• Sen. Ray Tenorio, R-Yigo
"The reason for the implementation was to show people what actually is going toward taxes versus what's going toward the product or service. In light of the fact that there's been a lot of controversy, and as well as a lot of trauma in so far as the visitors that come to our island seeing a tax when there was none shown before, and since we are a 'duty-free' destination in the eyes of the greater majority of our tourists, I think we should consider rolling it back."

Originally published Tuesday, March 2, 2004



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