Published On: Sun, Feb 26th, 2023

Slightly insane

By Hilbert Haar

I have more than once expressed my amazement about the huge number of tax warrants our tax inspectorate issues on a regular basis. Hundreds of them and they all have one characteristic in common: current residence unknown. So the tax inspectorate knows that it does not know where a certain tax payer is hanging out, but it still insists on issuing tax warrants that contain the order to comply with its contents within two days.

Maybe you wonder how often the people and businesses that are on the receiving end of these warrants step up to the plate to pay their dues. I wonder about that too and the short answer is: I don’t know either, but I doubt very much that they contribute to our country’s tax revenue.

The tax inspectorate hit a new low when it issues a tax warrant in January 13 for the Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Antillean Airways). This shows that our tax collectors are not very good at doing their due diligence, because the ALM went bankrupt more than twenty years ago, in 2002.

Even a simple internet-search would have told our tax inspectors all they needed to know. The Dutch airline KLM established the ALM on August 1, 1964, as the successor of West-Indisch Bedrijf that closed down in the same year. Five years later the Netherlands Antilles nationalized the airline and ousted the KLM as its owner.

From January 1, 1969, the airline was renamed ALM-Antillean Airlines, but it did not fare well under its new ownership. Corruption within the company and within the Antillean government led the airline to the inevitable abyss.

It still soldiered on for quite some years though and it even acquired St. Maarten’s airline Winair in 1977.

In 1986 neighboring Aruba obtained status aparte within the kingdom and it established its own airline: Air Aruba. It competed on routes the ALM also serviced.

By that time the ALM was already a loss-making company. Eight years before it took over Winair, the KLM had already canceled its cooperation with ALM on the Amsterdam-Curacao route.

After the turn of the century, things went from bad to worse and in September 2001, the ALM entered bankruptcy protection. To no avail: the next year the airline went bankrupt.

All this easily obtainable information has apparently escaped the attention of St. Maarten’s tax inspectorate – and that is beyond worrisome. It is, in my opinion at least, slightly insane.

The ALM tax warrant is obviously pointless. The airline has been beyond repair for more than twenty years but unfortunately our local tax inspectorate is not doing much better.