Finance chief: Enforcers are going  after B&Bs that are not paying taxes

DELINQUENT TAXES: Finance Secretary David Atalig answers a question while Commonwealth Casino Commission Chairman Juan M. Sablan and Executive Director Edward C. Deleon Guerrero listen during a meeting conducted by the House Ways and Means Committee in May about delinquent taxes.  Post file photo

SAIPAN - Enforcement teams from the Department of Finance-Division of Revenue and Taxation are “out there” checking on bed-and-breakfast establishments to ensure that they comply with local tax law, Finance Secretary David Atalig said.

A B&B establishment, according to the Saipan zoning law, is a “transient lodging establishment, generally in a single-family dwelling or up to 10 detached guesthouses, primarily engaged in providing overnight or otherwise temporary lodging for the general public and serves breakfast at no extra charge to their guests.”

Over the last couple of years, with the increase in the tourist arrival rate, several B&Bs have opened in different villages on Saipan.

A report shows that since 2017, the zoning office has approved more than 30 permits for B&B operations on Saipan.

In an interview on Thursday, Atalig said Revenue and Taxation enforcers are also looking into newly built or renovated apartment buildings.

“If they’re actually B&Bs, then they must pay the hotel occupancy tax,” he added.

Atalig said Finance remains aggressive in enforcing the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas tax laws.

However, last summer, officials had to stop the inspections of B&Bs because Finance needed to review the rules regarding B&B operations.

“We had to stop for a while and work with the Attorney General’s Office in reviewing the rules. We want to ensure that our enforcers are conducting inspections in accordance with the law,” Atalig said.

“We don’t want to go in there and end up violating any taxpayer’s or private citizen’s rights. We also want to make sure that an establishment’s tax information is accurate, and taxes are lawfully collected."