Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) has introduced a bill that would establish a Department of Revenue and Taxation that is independent from the CNMI Department of Finance.
Palacios said SB 20-1 would lessen the workload of the Finance secretary, currently occupied by Larrisa Larson, especially with the CNMI now having multiple sources of revenue.
“The Legislature finds the Finance secretary is bombarded with multiple other duties and responsibilities that she has not been able to devote enough time to the Division of Revenue and Taxation,” Palacios said.
Besides Rev&Tax, the two other divisions under the Finance Department are Customs Service and Procurement and Supply.
Customs collects tariffs and controls the flow of goods—animals, goods, personal effects, and other items—that go through CNMI ports, while P&S handles the purchase of goods and other services that the various government agencies need for its daily operations.
Palacios added that the Rev&Tax Division’s director post has been vacant for more than five years.
“At the same time, new tax laws and more stringent enforcement provisions of existing laws have been enacted in order to increase revenue and tax collections,” he said.
Palacios believes the CNMI could have generated more revenue from more collected taxes in the last five years only if there was a fulltime director leading the division. That’s why SB 20-1 wants the entire division reorganized to develop and expand tax enforcement and other services, rather than getting a full-time director.
If the new department is established, once SB 20-1 becomes a law, will be a new agency under the Executive Branch of the CNMI government that will be headed by a secretary who will be responsible in overseeing revenue collection and enforcing the tax laws of the Commonwealth.
The new department would facilitate the collection of income, sales receipts, gaming provisions, and other taxes established by CNMI laws. It will also have Tax Services and Tax Enforcement as divisions while the secretary will also work closely with the Customs director. (Jon Perez)