Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC belied reports that it’s behind in its tax payments, in the wake of a Department of Finance statement that casino gross revenue tax collected amounted to only $41,000 since the start of the fiscal year.
“Since we have been here, we have been paying our taxes. We have paid about $155 million of [business gross revenue tax] in cash. When you see our receivables, VIPs come and they are not paying us back, the island still got $155 million of tax in cash,” said IPI CEO and president Mark Brown in an interview following Thursday’s Commonwealth Casino Commission board meeting at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.
At the House Ways and Means Committee meeting last Wednesday, CNMI Finance officials led by Ryan Camacho disclosed that IPI so far has only remitted $41,000 in BGRT from October 2018 to April 23, 2019. That’s a far cry from the BGRT payments of $40.9 million in 2016, $67.7 million in 2017, and $43.6 million in 2018.
“In the couple of months that people are saying that we are behind, we are actually meeting with our accountants and looking into ‘credits’ that we have coming to us. …What does that mean? Do we or don’t we have credits coming? Once we have the answers to that, which we will be getting by this week, then we will go back to continue to pay what’s due,” Brown said.
Unfortunately, businesses have slowed down for the whole island and not just the casino, he added.
“We used to pay BGRT in the amount of $10 million, $15 million, $8 million but, obviously, businesses have slowed down. We will get back up to that number again one day,” he said.
“As everyone else understands, many businesses had problems on staffing, some businesses closed [but] we didn’t,” he added. “…We are still struggling along. We are losing money every month but that’s the reality. …The credits we still feel that are coming to us on those monthly recent BGRT moneys, our accountants and chief financial officer are trying to find out and, again, once we get the answer, we will go back and update the money for the previous months,” he added.
Brown reiterated that IPI knows the importance of fulfilling their responsibilities to the CNMI government and people. “We are here to pay our taxes. We are here to help. I know that the government is working very hard to help all the businesses on island and the Commonwealth Casino Commission is very supportive,” he said.
“Whether you love us or hate us, we are a huge part of this island. So, if we are successful, then the entire island is successful—not just the government with taxes but everybody’s businesses. Restaurants and bars will flourish because we will just keep bringing people here, as our plan is to be very successful for everyone,” he added.