September 2020

PARENTS who could not afford a computer device for their children to participate in virtual learning may now be in a better position to do so, as all taxes on laptops, notebook computers and tablets have been removed.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in a Twitter post on Friday night, announced the measure which he said takes effect immediately.

Imbert wrote: “Yesterday, based on a submission from the Ministry of Finance, in keeping with the commitment given in our PNM 2020 General Election Manifesto, Cabinet agreed to remove all taxes on laptops computers, notebook computers and tablet computers. This measure takes effect immediately.”

The PNM manifesto states: “To facilitate the participation of young people in particular to the technological transformation, the PNM will empower, link, incubate, support, finance and accelerate access to funding, training and equipment for digitisation. We will remove all taxes on computers, mobile and digital equipment, cellphones, software and accessories.”

These devices were previously subject to 12.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), as well as a seven per cent tax for online purchases.

While only laptops, notebooks and tablets are now immediately exempt from taxes, Imbert added that after the national budget debate is completed, taxes on other devices including mobile and digital equipment, cellphones and software will also be removed.

This is expected to take effect some time in December.

The announcement comes following calls from various sectors for taxes on computer devices to be removed, in light of schools moving to a virtual format for the first term of the 2020/2021 academic year.

On Friday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar criticised the Government’s scrapping of the laptop distribution programme which had been introduced during her tenure as prime minister.

She said the Government had failed to put anything in place to give pupils access to technology, especially now with schools moving to a virtual format of teaching.

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