Several scribbled papers and a severe headache is what Claribel got this Monday, when the self-employed dressmaker started to fill out her tax form. With the recent start of the tax campaign for the 2015 tax year, doubts are arising about how best to comply with the duties to the Treasury.
Officials of the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) call on people not to delay and to pay their taxes before the April 30 deadline. The chief of the state entity, Yamile Perez Diaz, criticized those delinquent during a press conference last week, although she added that “greater discipline and a tax-paying culture” is evident in the country.
This year ONAT has added the option for taxpayers to send the main form, known as DJ-08, by email. The move could speed up receipt of the document and guarantee that it reaches the right hands, instead of getting lost in the inefficient Cuban postal service.
However, the improvements announced are not enough for people like Claribel, who for most of her life only heard about taxes as an evil of the capitalist past. For her, filling out the declaration presents obstacles almost impossible to overcome. “Next year I’ll hire someone to help me even though I will have to give them give part of my earnings,” she says.
Mairell Naranjo offers financial advice to small private businesses and also handles all of the license holder’s ONAT paperwork. Her specialty is the payment of monthly and quarterly taxes, plus the preparation of the tax return.
Services like those offered by Naranjo are well received among the the country’s 496,400 self-employed. Computerized tools that help keep track of a business and accurately calculate profits and taxes have also begun to be available.
Under the name Cuentapro, a tax program sold on the informal market that allows “efficient management of accounts,” according to Alexander, the young man who created it. It keeps a thorough record of payments to employees, costs for buying goods, and un-taxed earnings, letting the self-employed person know “what goes into our pocket and what we have to give ONAT,” says one of the sellers of the software.
Like every year, those who meet their tax obligations before February 28 will be entitled to a 5% discount. Last year, only 67% of taxpayers filed for this benefit.
In 2015, the gross income declared by the self-employed totaled 3.825 billion Cuban pesos. This represented an increase of one billion over the previous year. However, 68,000 taxpayers were called to account by ONAT for declaring incomes below those estimated by the tax administration itself.