ROAD TAX -T m
.L DOCSilege of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service- Darshan S. Padda, Director St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Cooperative Extension Service
Extension Bulletin No. 2
LEARNING ABOUT OUR
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Forew ard ....................................................... I
Our System of Taxation: An Overview ................................. 2
Social Security Tax ................................................ 3
Individual Income Tax ............................................ .4
Corporate Income Tax ............................................ .4
Proprietorship and Partnership Income Tax ......................... ... .5
Franchise Tax and License Fees ..................................... .6
Im port T ax ......................................................7
Federal Excise Tax on V.I. Products................................... 8
Local Excise Tax........................................ .......... .9
Gross Receipts Tax ............................................... 10
H hotel Room Tax .................................................11
Production Tax .................................................. 11
Highway User's Tax............................................... 12
Real Property Tax................................................ 13
Gift and Inheritance Tax........................................... 14
Stam p Tax...................................................... 14
Workmen's Compensation.......................................... 15
Unemployment Insurance.......................................... 15
Tax Exemptions and Subsidies ...................................... 16
Other Booklets and Factsheets ...................................... 16
Prepared & edited by: Kwame (Juan) Garcia, Program Leader
Community Resource Development
Cooperative Extension Service
College of the Virgin Islands
Our system of taxation is a very important part of our government. Revenues derived from
taxes provide such services as law enforcement, education, fire protection, public housing and
health care. Tax monies also assist the poor, train the handicapped and help preserve the
Since, in one way or another, everyone is ultimately affected by taxes, it is important that
there be a clear understanding of the system of taxation here in the territory. This bulletin is
therefore intended to provide a preliminary exposure to those who are interested in learning
more about our Virgin Islands tax system.
The Cooperative Extension Service continues to serve as an informal educa-
tional agency with a mission of helping Virgin Islanders improve the quality of
life. Within the few years since its beginning in 1972, when the college received
land-grant status by the United States Congress, the Cooperative Extension
Service has continually expanded its services in the field of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, Home Economics, 4-H Youth Development and Com-
munity Resources Development.
With this bulletin which provides information on Virgin Islands taxes
affecting not only those in the agri-business industry but also the members of
our community, as a whole, we hope to meet the changing needs of Virgin
Islanders through a more diversified Community Resources Development
The Cooperative Extension Service aptly demonstrates how the USDA, the
land-grant college and the community can jointly work towards improving the
quality of life for the people. I encourage all Virgin Islanders to utilize the
educational opportunities offered by the Cooperative Extension Service of the
College of the Virgin Islands.
Darshan S. Padda, Director
Cooperative Extension Service
OUR SYSTEM OF TAXATION
DIRECT AND INDIRECT TAXES
Taxes can be classified by whether they are directly or indirectly paid. Direct taxes are
paid to the government with the knowledge and intent of the payer. An example of direct
taxes are the individual income taxes. With this form of taxation, the burden of payment lies
directly upon the individual.
The gross receipt taxes are examples of indirect taxes. Gross receipts taxes are levied on
business concerns. However, the businesses may well pass these taxes on to the consumers in
the form of higher prices. Thus, the burden of an indirect tax may not be borne by the enter-
prise on which the taxes are levied.
PROPORTIONAL, PROGRESSIVE and REGRESSIVE TAXES
A tax may also be classified by the rate or percentage of taxation in relation to the amount
of the income.
The tax is proportional if the rate of taxation remains constant as the income base increases.
The social security tax is proportional, but only up to a certain wage (income) limit. An
employee is currently required to pay a social security tax of 6.13% on all income up to
$25,900. This tax is, therefore, proportional up to that income level.
A tax is progressive if the rate of taxation increases as the income base increases. Individual
income taxes are examples of progressive taxes. In 1978, a single person with one exemption
whose income was $5,000 would have paid a tax of $283 at a tax rate of 5.66%. If that person
had an income of $10,000, his tax liability would have been $1,227, for a tax rate of 12.27%.
At income of $15,000, the tax would have been $2,472 for a rate of 16.48%. Clearly, an
increase in income goes hand-in-hand with rising (progressive) income tax payments.
A tax may be considered regressive if the rate of payment decrefaes in proportion to the
amount of income increase. The key concept-is the rate of percentage of tax payment to
income and not the actual amount of tax paid. Let's look at the Virgin Islands property
tax which is currently levied at a flat rate of 1.25% of the assessed property value. Even though
this tax is legally proportional, it may be considered regressive when compared with rising
family income instead of with the value of the property itself. Because a rise in family income
will not automatically increase the assessed value of the family home, the property tax there-
fore, tends to extract a larger proportion of income from lower income families than from
families in middle and upper income brackets.
PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION
Students of taxation have long debated the issue of what constitutes an effective tax system.
Among the basic principles of taxation generally agreed upon are that the tax must be:
Just and fair
Levied at an appropriate time, when the people are able to pay;
And that the government must be able to decrease this tax in good times
And be able to increase the tax in emergencies.
A system of taxation can also contribute to economic stabilization. According to some
economists, during a depression there should be a reduction in taxes but not in government
expenditures. This allows more money to remain in the economy and thus creates additional
economic activities. During inflationary times, taxes, but not government expenditures, should
be increased. This will serve to withdraw money from the economy. Thus, taxation is one of
the instruments for regulating our economy.
Institutions such as churches, schools, hospitals, and even civic and community organizations
are exempted from taxation for social reasons. On the other hand, government generally levies
a heavy tax on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Similarly, luxury items tend to be taxed at a
higher rate than necessities.
SOCIAL SECURITY TAX
The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) provides for a national program which
insures against loss of earnings because of age, death, or prolonged disability. The tax required
under this program is referred to as the FICA tax, or the Social Security Tax and is applicable
to the United States Virgin Islands.
Under this program, each employer is required to deduct a Social Security Tax from em-
ployees' wages. The employer is also required to deduct from his business revenues an amount
equal to the total amount deducted from his employees' wages. The tax rate is currently 6.13%
but will increase in the years ahead (see table below). The maximum employee's wage from
which the tax is deducted in 1979 is $22,900, but this wage limit will also increase in the years
ahead. Thus, a person earning $60,000 annually pays social security tax equal to that of some-
one earning $22,900.
For those who are self-employed, the Social
Security Tax rates are higher than the rates for
regular wage earners. However, self-employed persons
do not have a matching requirement. For the tax
year 1979, the self-employed person is required to
pay a social security tax of 8.1% on wages up to a
maximum of $22,900.
In addition to monthly benefits in retirement,
Social Security also provides disability and survivor's
insurance that protects the employees and their
dependents throughout the working years. Social
Security deductions also pay for Medicare hospital
insurance for people 65 and older and for those who
have been getting disability checks for two years or
The table below shows the tax rate for 1980 through 1984 and the wage base for 1980 and
1981. Starting with 1982, the earnings base will rise automatically according to increases in
average wage levels.
X Y Z In employees each If self-employed On earnings
A T -will pay you will pay up to
I ------ IN 1980 6.13% 8.1% $25,900
1981 6.65% 9.3% $29,700
S1982 6.70% 9.35% *
1983 6.70% 9.35% *
1984 6.70% 9.35% *
*Wage base will increase according
to average wage level increases.
INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX
In the Virgin Islands we have a public administration system which we call the Territorial
government. Residents of the Virgin Islands pay income taxes to this single government
structure. However, we are required to use the Federal income tax laws and regulations to
compute our Territorial tax obligations. This means that the Federal income tax tables and
such Federal tax forms as the 1040 and 1040A are used when filing the Territorial income tax.
This also means that April 15th is the deadline for filing your tax on income earned during the
preceding year. Changes in the Federal tax laws may affect us in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The
relationship between the Federal and Territorial tax systems is sometimes referred to as the
"mirror theory" of taxation.
The amount of tax an individual pays depends on the size of his income. The tax rates
usually increase as the income gets larger. Booklets listing the various tax rates are issued by
the local Department of Finance or U.S. Internal Revenue services.
7210 1Z 13
2#-^/^ 2 3 2f 2- 2"
CORPORATE INCOME TAX
Many businesses in our community are formed by using a particular structure called a
corporation. A corporation is a legal entity operated by a charter called the articles of incor-
poration. The profits of the corporation are taxed separately from the earnings of its owners.
It is the corporation and not the owners that are liable for its taxes. Corporations do not use
the individual income tax tables to compute their tax liabilities; instead a special set of rules
is used for computing corporate tax.
Corporations and other businesses located in the Virgin Islands pay taxes only to the Terri-
torial government. As in the case of personal income tax, Federal tax rules are also used in
computing the amount of taxes a corporation must pay the Territory. These rules sometimes
change as a result of legislation by the U.S. Congress. For the year 1979,a corporation basically
computes its income tax liability as follows:
It must pay a tax of 17% on the
first $25,000 of profit it achieves. A X T FOOD oP.
It must pay a tax of 20% on
the second $25,000 of profit it
It must pay a tax of 30% on the
third $25,000 of profit it achieves.
It must pay a tax of 40% on / : >.\
the fourth S25,000 of profit it
It must pay a tax of 46% on all OUNTINO DEPT.
profit exceeding $100,000. I I
PROPRIETORSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP INCOME TAX
Business firms which are not corporations are usually organized as proprietorships or some-
times partnerships. A proprietorship is a business legally owned by a single individual for his or
her own benefit. The proprietorship is the simplest form of business organization. The business
liabilities, including income taxes, are the personal liabilities of the owner. The proprietorship
terminates when the owner dies.
A partnership is a business legally owned by two or more persons. The partners arc expected
to share in the profit or loss of the partnership and are responsible for the payment of all
The profits earned using a proprietorship and partnership form of business are personal
income of the owners. The individual income tax rules are therefore used for computing the
tax required on the income gained from either of these forms of enterprise.
FRANCHISE TAX AND LICENSE FEES
Every legally established corporation or foreign corporation doing business in the territory
is required to pay a franchise tax of $1.50 for each thousand dollars of capital stock. However,
the minimum franchise tax is $100.00.
This franchise tax gives the corporation the right to conduct business in the territory, the
right to exclusive use of its name, and to file court cases.
Proprietorships or partnerships, as well as those in the practice of professions, trades and
crafts, are required to purchase only business licenses in order to conduct business in the
territory. On the other hand, a corporation must purchase a business license, and also pay a
The Danish Law No. 64, 1914
The United States Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917. The then Danish
colonial government, including its system of taxation, was gradually transferred to our present
territorial government. Among the Danish legal structures that have remained in effect until
today is the Danish import tax law of 1914.
This law requires that ad valorem customs duties be levied on certain foreign goods which
are imported into the Virgin Islands. This levy is not applied on goods made in the United
States. Some of the foreign items taxable by this law include the following: automobile,
clothing, furniture, and jewelry. The customs tax rate is 6% of the value of the foreign item
being imported. However, the federal government has recently granted permission to the
territorial government to reduce this 6% rate for particular items. This customs tax applies
even when the foreign goods come from the United States mainland.
The United States Customs office is the entity that actually collects the money required
by this tax. This money is then transferred to the territorial government.
Some foreign items which are excluded from the ad valorem tax are books, periodicals,
fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, live turtles, gold and silver ingots, earth, clay, stone, mules and
asses, manure, rum and molasses.
FEDERAL EXCISE TAXES ON V.I. PRODUCTS
The Revised Organic act of 1954 is the federal law which currently serves as the Virgin
Islands Constitution. This Act requires that Federal excise taxes collected on Virgin Islands
products should be returned to the territory.
Currently Virgin Islands rum is the major local product which is shipped to the United
States mainland*. An excise tax is levied on this rum when it enters the mainland ports. The
tax revenues collected on the rum are returned to the territory. Generally all revenues received
from excise taxes on Virgin Islands products shipped to the mainland are referred to as the
Internal Revenue Matching Funds or sometimes as the rum excise tax funds. However, other
V.I. products, such as costume jewelry, also contribute a small amount of federal excise tax
revenues to the territory.
According to the Revised Organic Act of 1954, the excise tax revenues returned to the
territorial government are based upon certain stipulations:
a) The United States government will return to the
Territorial government tax revenues collected equal
to the amount of revenue collected within the territory.
b) The United States government will return to the
territorial government tax revenues collected which are
larger than those collected by the territorial govern-
ment, provided that these funds are for "emergency
purposes and essential public projects".
c) Additional tax revenues collected during the fiscal year
shall remain in the Treasury of the United States as
The approval of the President of the United States or his designated representative is re-
quired before internal revenue excise taxes returned to the territory can be obligated or
L ST. CROi)( 5
CARIBBEAN 5EA 'P /OV
*The V.I. and the U.S. Department of Treasury at the time of this printing are in litigation to determine whether petroleum
fuel refined locally and shipped to the mainland should be considered a V.I. product.
LOCAL EXCISE TAX
We have seen that certain goods entering the United States Virgin Islands from foreign
countries are subject to a 6% custom levy. There is also another import tax called the local
This excise tax is levied on certain goods entering the United States Virgin Islands for
business use or resale. The point of origin of the goods will not affect the excise tax rate.
Goods produced in any part of the United States other than the Virgin Islands can be subject
to the excise tax. Foreign goods, unless exempted, are subject to this excise tax in addition to
the 6% ad valorem custom duties.
The excise tax is levied only on the first seller or on the persons importing the goods. The
tax may be a specific fee on a select item. For example, liquor is taxed $3.00 per case or S 1.25
per wine gallon, whichever is greater; or the tax may be a percentage of the cost, such as 10%
on bicycles, 5% on tires and 3% on jewelry. When the percentage method is used, the cost is
determined to be the net invoice value plus a markup of 5%. This tax should be filed on a
Among the items commonly excluded from excise taxes are educational materials, food-
stuffs, livestock feed, and motor vehicles which pay the Highway User's Tax.
GROSS RECEIPTS TAX
Every firm or individual engaged in a business in the Virgin Islands is required to pay a
gross receipts tax of two percent (2%) whenever the gross income exceeds a certain limit.
In addition, service enterprises such as lawyers, doctors and accountants must also pay this
gross receipts tax. This tax is based upon the gross sales and is computed on a monthly basis.
For example, if a business had sales of $4,000 during the month, then a gross receipts tax of
$80 is due. If in any month, the gross sales are less than $1,000, then no gross receipts tax is
due during that month. However, the gross receipts tax return must be filed, even if the
monthly sales are less than $1,000. As a result of importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and
retailers being required to pay the gross receipts tax, most goods are taxed at several stages
in our distribution system.
Farmers, fishermen, taxi drivers, bus companies, costume jewelry manufacturers, and banks
are among those exempted from this tax. The commission earned on sales of Virgin Islands
lottery tickets is also exempted.
A tax of 5% of the gross receipts are levied
on all performances or entertainment. This
5% tax serves as the gross receipts tax for
The type of functions on which the tax is
normally levied includes the following: horse
races, boxing matches, motion pictures,
cockfights, and circuses. However, if these
were held by a recognized religious, civic, or
other community organization and were not
held for business or profit-making purposes,
then the tax would not apply.
SUPER MNAtKKET -
HOTEL ROOM TAX
A tax of 5% of the rental cost is levied on all guests of a hotel in the territory. The term
"hotel" includes apartment hotels, guest houses, condominiums, boarding houses, residential
clubs, and private clubs. If the hotel has less than three rooms then this tax does not apply.
The Hotelkeeper is required to collect this 5% room tax from the guest and hold it in trust
for the government of the Virgin Islands. The Hotelkeeper is also required to file the room tax
form and pay the appropriate fee with the government on a monthly basis.
CA qN 3L
A production tax is a specific fee levied on some
measurable proportion of goods manufactured or
processed in the Virgin Islands. For example, a tax of
one cent (1t) per yard is levied on woolen yard goods
manufactured or processed in the Virgin Islands. This
penny per yard tax applies whenever the amount of
woolen material produced does not exceed a production
limit called a "quota". Woolen material produced in
excess of this limit or quota is levied a tax of 654 pet
The quota is determined by the Virgin Islands govern-
ment and helps to provide for an acceptable commercial 1
relationship between the levels of Virgin Islands and
mainland productions. The initial tax of one cent
per yard within the quota serves as a control device that
monitors the amount of woolen yardages produced in
the Virgin Islands. This is because producers are re-
quired to pay a tax on even low levels of production. On
the other hand, the tax of 65t per yard beyond the -
quota will very likely render it not profitable to con-
tinue excess production.
HIGHWAY USER'S TAX ( Road Tax )
A tax is levied whenever a vehicle is brought into the Virgin Islands. This tax is based upon
the weight of the vehicle. The rate is 11 per pound, with a minimum tax of $25.00.
Taxicabs and franchised buses are among those exempted from this tax. A vehicle may also
be exempted from taxation if it was owned by a resident for two or more years before being
A ta\ of Xe per gallon is levied on gasoline
or diesel tuel sold in the Virgin Islands.
This tax does not apply if the fuel was sold FU E
for use in aircraft, motorboats, or any motor
vehici-l not built for operation upon the
public hiliways. Cooking gas as well as fuel
for industrial purposes are also exempted
Irom this tax.
REAL PROPERTY TAX
A tax of 1.25% is levied on the value of buildings and land areas in the Virgin Islands.
This tax is levied on only 60% of the assessed value of the property. For an example, let us
assume that the government's tax appraiser assesses a building to be valued at $100,000.
The property tax due will be $750.00 or 1.25% of $60,000 ($100,000 x .60).
Homeowners who use their properties as living quarters may be granted an exemption of
up to $5,000 of the assessed value of the property. In the above example, if the owners used
the building as a home, then the tax will be levied on only $55,000 of the value of the buil-
ding. The tax due will now be $687.50.
If the homeowner is a veteran, the exemption goes to a maximum of $10,000 of the asses-
sed valuation. Using the same example, the rate would apply only on $50,000 of the assessed
value. Therefore, the tax would be $625.00. If the veteran has military service-connected
disability, which is considered to be a 100% disability, his home will be totally exempted from
property tax. In the event of the veteran's death, these benefits may be continued until the
spouse remarries or dies.
If the real property is being used for agricultural or horticultural purposes, then the total
land areas, including structures related to farming, such as barns, may receive an exemption of
95% of the assessed value of the property.
GIFT AND INHERITANCE TAX
The transfer of property by gift or inheritance is taxed at a rate ranging from 5% to 15%
depending upon the nature of lineal relationship of the partners in the transaction. The first
$3,000 of a gift is exempted from taxation. In the case of inheritance, the exemptions vary
from $5,000 to $50,000. The taxes are as follows:
(a) On gifts or inheritances
from husband to wife,
from wife to husband,
from parents to children
and grandchildren, and
from children to parents
(b) On gifts or inheritances
from brothers and sisters,
to brothers and sisters,
from aunts and uncles
to nieces or nephews
(c) On gifts or inheritance
to all others not listed above.
However, there is no tax levied on gifts to recognized religious, charitable, scientific, literary
or educational organizations.
Certain real or personal properties such as buildings or
land require a deed for their transferral. A tax of one percent
(1%) is imposed on the value of such properties.
Certified copies of District Court documents are also levied
a stamp tax. A tax of 40 is imposed on each judgment,
order, or other document issued by the District Court of the
An additional fee may be charged for the cost of photo-
copying or notarizing documents. The funds collected go into
the territorial treasury.
To provide for financial assistance in the 4oo
event of employment-related accidents, Virgin
Islands' employers are required to subscribe
to the Virgin Islands Workmen's Compensa-
This insurance is required of all employers
except churches, employers of domestic help, l
and certain non-profit organizations. However,
these employers may voluntarily participate
in the Workmen's Compensation Insurance
The insurance rates are based upon the
type of business, the degree of risk, and the
wage levels. Payments are usually made
annually or semi-annually.
Virgin Islands employers are currently required to pay an unemployment insurance fee of
4.4% on the first $6,000 of wages paid to each employee. This fee serves as an insurance
premium to assist those who become unemployed.
The first 3.7% of this insurance fee goes
toward the territorial unemployment insur-
F *^ ance fund. The remaining .7% is paid to the
Internal Revenue Service under the Federal
Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). A good
experience rating or a low employee turnover
rate may lower the unemployment fee for an
Employers are required to pay this unem-
ployment insurance tax whenever the employ-
ee's wages exceed $500 during any quarter.
TAX EXEMPTIONS AND SUBSIDIES
Virgin Island Businesses may apply for exemptions from local taxes or, in the case of
federal taxes, for a refund on that part of the taxes remitted to the territorial treasury.
The government has a special program called "The Industrial Development Commission
(IDC)" which handles requests for tax exemption on businesses. The IDC is organized to pro-
vide the economic inducements that might attract those industries to the Virgin Islands which
contribute to the economic and social development of its people. The IDC may grant a firm
up to 100% tax exemption from real property, gross receipts, and certain excise taxes. In
addition, the IDC may grant up to 90% refund in customs duties and corporate income taxes.
These exemptions or subsidies may be granted for a period as long as 20 years. Refunds are
also granted to individual shareholders for taxes they pay on dividends from these tax exempt
The legislature, as the law-making body of government, can also grant tax exemptions.
1. Grain Sorghum and Forage: Production and Utilization Potential in St. Croix, US. Virgin Islands
2. Fruits and Vegetables: Production and Consumption Potentials and Marketing Problems in the
US. Virgin Islands
3. Profitability of Beef Production in St. Croix, US. Virgin Islands
4. Profitability of Dairy Farming in St. Croix, US. Virgin Islands
5. Profitability of Poultry Production in the U.S. Virgin Islands
6. Profitability of Hog Production in the US. Virgin Islands
7. Potential Returns from Goat and Sheep Enterprises in the US. Virgin Islands
8. Marketing Potential for Livestock Products in the US. Virgin Islands
9. Virgin Islands Forestry Research A Problem Analysis
10. Prospects for Growing Grapes in the US. Virgin Islands
11. Okra: A Beloved Virgin (Farmers Bulletin 1)
12. Sorghum in the Virgin Islands (Farmers Bulletin 2)
13. Native Recipes
1. Vegetable Planting and Harvest Guide
2. Seeding Vegetable Crops
3. Growing Vegetable Slips
4. Transplanting Vegetable Crops
5. Mulch For Your Garden
6. How To Prepare Your Own Compost
7. Staking and Training Tomato Plants
8. Controlling Tomato Insects and Diseases
9. Non-Disease Tomato Disorders
10. Growing Spinach In The Virgin Islands
11. Controlling Nematodes In The Vegetable
12. Propagation of Fruit and Ornamental Plants
13. Propagation of Fruit and Ornamental Plants
14. Propagation of Fruit and Ornamental Plants
15. Propagation of Fruit and Ornamental Plants
16. Fertilizing Your Garden For Optimum Yields
17. How Many Teaspoons is 5 Pounds Per Acre?
18. Organic Gardening: Soil Fertility
19. Organic Gardening: Pest Control
20. A Simple Home Drip Irrigation System
These booklets are available free of charge by writing to the Extension Editor, College of the Virgin Islands,
P.O. Box "L", Kingshill, St. Croix, US. Virgin Islands 00850. (Please request Factsheets by number.)
The compilation of the material in this booklet could have been extremely
time-consuming if it were not for the valuable assistance given me by the staff
and my colleagues of the Cooperative Extension Service, College of the Virgin
Islands. I express my appreciation for this assistance. Special thanks to Mrs. Liz
Wilson for her effort in proofreading and Mrs. Jean Cook for her valuable
The Virgin Islands Code serves as the main resource information for this
booklet. However, much assistance was also received from various federal and
local government departments which included the Department of Finance, the
Legislature Post-Audit Division, and the local Social Security Office.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914 (as amended), in coopera-
tion with U.S. Department of Agriculture, O.S. Padda, Director, College of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service.
The College of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action organization,
providing educational services in the fields of agriculture, home economics, community resource development, 4-H youth
development and related subjects to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
COLLEGE OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
P.O. BOX L, KINGSHILL
ST. CROIX, VIRGIN ISLANDS 00850
PENALTY FOR PRIVATE USE $300
POSTAGE AND FEES PAID
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Printed by Prestige Press St. Croix