With another tax proposal on the table, we urge island lawmakers to put the brakes on efforts to raise taxes or fees.

Sen. Joe San Agustin recently introduced legislation to implement a 4% use tax on goods coming in through the mail. Exemptions are allowed for purchases of up to $1,000 in a month and up to $5,000 in a year for personal-use purchases.

We agree with Sen. James Moylan that there is a trend of tax or fee increases by the government of Guam.

Since January, Moylan has introduced measures to reduce the costs of goods. Those measures include Bill 9, which would roll back the business privilege tax; Bill 10, which would reduce the liquid fuel tax; Bill 71, which addresses the weights and measures for heavy vehicles to ease the landing costs of goods; and Bill 133, which would reduce the filing fees for a limited liability corporation.

Other than Bill 71, none of the other measures have been scheduled for a public hearing, Moylan said in a news release.

It makes no sense for GovGuam to establish taxes when it can’t collect on ones that already exist. Earlier this month, the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation said it has to postpone plans to hire staff for tax collection. The reason? The department faces a nearly 40% increase in its monthly rent.

In an editorial that addressed DRT’s announcement, we urged GovGuam officials to consider shifting funds to Rev and Tax so that it can follow through on plans to hire staff.

In a following editorial, we urged officials to heed Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz’s advice. The former legislative speaker suggested plugging a tobacco tax collection loophole.

GovGuam needs to take a common sense approach to taxes. Instead of spending time discussing which taxes and fees to raise, officials should shift gears and work on improving tax collection by closing loopholes and hiring tax enforcers. It shouldn’t be the case that taxpayers have to suffer bigger cost burdens while the government makes little progress in collecting what it is owed.

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