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IMPORTANT INFO FOR ALL USVI RESIDENTS AND NON-RESIDENT PROPERTY OWNERS

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vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

Hi,

The Customs department currently is confiscating $11.5 million of duties meant for the USVI. Please follow the points below to understand the issue.

1) The USVI government sets and controls the duties imposed on all goods coming in to and going out from the territory.
2) The USVI government is suppose to receive those proceeds in to the general fund for use on the islands
3) The US Customs department collects those duties for the USVI governement
4) The US Customs salaries are paid for by the US governmtent
5) The US Customs department makes agreement with USVI to retain an amount from the duties collected to offset the cost of collection
6) Through the years of the agreement, US Customs claims each year that the cost of collection has increased and they retain more of the duties collected each year
7) This year, US Customs collected $11.5 million in duties, of which the USVI expected to receive about $8.75 million (after the cost of collection was withheld)
8) This year US Customs decided their cost of collection equals or exceeds the $11.5 million in duties they collected.
9) This year, the US Customs is keeping all $11.5 million they collected

It makes no sense for us to pay this tax if the Feds are going to keep all the proceeds. The VI senate has the power to abolish these duties and they have tried in the last two sessions. They failed to pass the vote because they feared the loss of several “customs jobs” which the US government pays for anyway.

The confiscation of the $11.5 million is suppose to go to covering the “extra” cost of collecting the VI funds. And now we see none of the revenue collected.

$11.5 million = $112 dollars in the pockets of every man, woman, and child in the territory each year.

$11.5 million could be 230 jobs at $50,000 per year.

It is time to force the legislature to do the right thing.

After discussing this with Senator Nellie O'Reilly, she said "contact the legislature, numbers matter". I just started a Care2 petition: Abolish USVI Customs Duties. If enough people sign my petition, we can make a difference. When we have enough signatures, the petition will be presented to the senate for action.

If the following addresses don't show up as links, just copy and paste them in to your browser address bar.

Here's a link to the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/ATEsh/zoyY/Cj5YQ

And here's a link to share it on Facebook: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/ATEsH/zoyY/Cj5YQ

If there's anyone you know who might be able to help spread the word, please copy this text and email to all USVI residents and property owners.

Thanks so much -- I really appreciate your help!

Vic

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 10:51 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

This dispute has been going on for years.

http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2015/10/21/feds-keeping-millions-usvi-customs-duties

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Posted : October 27, 2015 11:10 am
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

The point is, despite the rampant Apathy that permeates island residents, this is one thing we can do something about. In the time it took to respond to this post, you could have signed the petition.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 11:21 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Whats the point? If the US Customs duty is abolished, the VI government will just create their own tax in its place, and it will probably be higher. I'd rather US Customs have the money than the wasteful clusterf**ks that run our local government.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 11:24 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

The point is, despite the rampant Apathy that permeates island residents, this is one thing we can do something about. In the time it took to respond to this post, you could have signed the petition.

Ergo your knee jerk assumption is that I don't have the time to do both? My guess is that I've expended way more "real" hands-on time working to better my community than you've expended signing online petitions - so with that in mind you can gently insert your "rampant Apathy" comment where it best belongs. 😀

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Posted : October 27, 2015 11:54 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

It's surprising given the above mentioned that our VI Governor and Senators haven't made a move in this direction since they're always going on about our "dire financial straits" and instituting rates increase and taxes to cover their unbridled spending.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 12:04 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

As I said in the original post, the duties ARE CREATED BY THE USVI GOVERNMENT AND ARE SUPPOSE TO BE FOR THE BENEFIT OF USVI RESIDENTS. They are only COLLECTED by US Customs for the island. The point here is the US Government (Customs in this case) is literally stealing our money. So why should we give them the opportunity to do so? Sign the petition so we can abolish the duties altogether.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 12:20 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Signing a petition is no guarantee of effecting change and neither is SHOUTING at people, demanding action of them or making assumptions resulting in rude comments directed towards them. I understand the honey produced on STX is remarkably sweet and wholesome. Maybe have a spoonful or two?

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Posted : October 27, 2015 12:26 pm
islandjoan
(@islandjoan)
Trusted Member

What can it hurt to sign a petition for crying out loud.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 12:31 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

Oldtart,

In your own words, your knee jerk assumption that I was referring to you in particular with any of my comments will be dispelled if you continue to read.

My first attempt at passing the word of the problem and the petition was posting on Facebook. The possibility of reaching thousands of islanders in a short period of time. Within the first 24 hours the petition had been signed 12 times. Of the 12 signatures, not one was from a resident of the island. The Facebook post had not been shared once, nor had it been liked once. At the 24 hour mark, I shared the post again with a change in wording assuming the first post may not have been clear enough to prod residents to action. By 48 hours, 19 signatures appeared on the petition. Of the 19 signatures, not one was from a resident of the island. The Facebook post had not been shared once, nor had it been liked once. This is the apathy I was referring to.

I, like you, am a long time resident and business person on the island, and I continue to take the opportunity to affect change whenever there is a chance to do so. The Source broke the original story on this, and they will be doing a follow up by the end of the week. They intend to include the petition in the story.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 12:34 pm
SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
Advanced Member

As I said in the original post, the duties ARE CREATED BY THE USVI GOVERNMENT AND ARE SUPPOSE TO BE FOR THE BENEFIT OF USVI RESIDENTS. They are only COLLECTED by US Customs for the island. The point here is the US Government (Customs in this case) is literally stealing our money. So why should we give them the opportunity to do so? Sign the petition so we can abolish the duties altogether.

You are wrong.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 12:36 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

Oldtart,

State your source. My info comes from Senator Nellie O'Reilly as of three days ago.

You are absolutely correct, a petition is no guaranty. However, if you are standing in front of a gun, an attempt at jumping out of the way is no guaranty you won't get shot, but would you try?

As for SHOUTING and RUDE, I believe my comments have been well thought out, presented calmly, cooly, and collectedly. Sometimes the words people read are colored by the eyes they enter.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 12:48 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

... The possibility of reaching thousands of islanders in a short period of time. Within the first 24 hours the petition had been signed 12 times. Of the 12 signatures, not one was from a resident of the island. The Facebook post had not been shared once, nor had it been liked once. At the 24 hour mark, I shared the post again with a change in wording assuming the first post may not have been clear enough to prod residents to action. By 48 hours, 19 signatures appeared on the petition. Of the 19 signatures, not one was from a resident of the island. The Facebook post had not been shared once, nor had it been liked once. This is the apathy I was referring to.

In 48 hours you expect "thousands of islanders" to see and respond to a FB post? I appreciate the morning chuckle! Your "long" six years of residency haven't served you well if you seriously have such an expectation.

I'm unsure what your "state your source" comment refers to.

Good luck in your quest.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 1:06 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

Oldtart,

In your comment you adamantly state "You are wrong", so state your source.

And I am not so naive to think "The possibility of reaching thousands of islanders in a short period of time" would result in a thousand signatures in 48 hours, rather that even if a FB friend did not feel the urge to sign the petition, at least they would pass it on as requested, thus reaching "thousands of islanders in a short period of time".

And "Long" is a relative term. You think just by looking up my tenure on vimovingcenter you know all about me. I've been a property owner for over over a decade, and probably have done more for the island in that period than many who were born here.

Now to head off your abusive comments to come about that last line, I said "many" not all. I am quite aware of the contributions made by all the good residents of this island.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 1:22 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Oldtart,

1. In your comment you adamantly state "You are wrong", so state your source.

2. And "Long" is a relative term. You think just by looking up my tenure on vimovingcenter you know all about me. I've been a property owner for over over a decade, and probably have done more for the island in that period than many who were born here.

1. That was not my post.

2. Indeed it is "relative", something which I'm very well aware of after 30 plus years living here.

Again, good luck with your quest.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 1:28 pm
SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
Advanced Member

Customs duties are charged under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security according to rates set by the Federal Government. They are NOT a local tax, they are NOT determined by the local government, they are NOT collected by territorial officials.

Any agreement that may exist for the sharing of that tax revenue is at the discretion of the Federal government.

Once again it seems that a lack of initiative and a failure to plan, or even to read the damn document, by territorial officials has resulted in a loss for the territory. How predictable and pathetic.

Anyone clever enough to create an online petition should be able to educate themselves how federal and local governments actually work. Ultimately educating oneself is far more fulfilling than using phony outrage to mask one's ignorance and failure of foresight.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 1:34 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

My apologies Oldtart.

SunnyCaribe,

I would expect Senator O'Reilly would know the law, and that the vote to abolish was voted down twice in the last two legislatures. Why would the senator prod me to action if what you believe is true?

And why are the comments I am getting so attacking and abusive? Just trying to have an intelligent discussion and do some good for our islands. How about we all try to leave the attitudes away from the keyboards?

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 2:04 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Don't you think that "expecting" a senator to know the law is maybe just a little naive?

As far as comments being, "attacking and abusive" I think returning your comment of, "sometimes the words people read are colored by the eyes they enter" (sic) may be apropos. Simply because contributors may disagree with you and explain why doesn't constitute abuse or attacks.

When you opt to seek support for a cause it's best to know the details of exactly what you're supporting so that you're able to properly respond to questions and comments. Unfortunately many of our senators are in the habit of subscribing to the philosophy that he who shouts loudest prevails - and hang the pesky details! 😀

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Posted : October 27, 2015 2:34 pm
vroberge
(@vroberge)
Advanced Member

I think senator O'Reilly having been an attorney and in the Legislature for the last couple of terms, probably would know what she's talking about as far as US Virgin Islands law, and was probably there when the vote was being taken to abolish the duties in the last two legislatures.

As for the posting attitudes, I was not the one that introduced the words shouting, rude, insert, ignorance, phony, etc etc etc.

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Topic starter Posted : October 27, 2015 2:52 pm
NugBlazer
(@NugBlazer)
Advanced Member

Message Removed. Please revisit board rules.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 3:12 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Message Removed. Please revisit board rules.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 3:17 pm
SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
Advanced Member

Customs duties are a FEDERAL TAX, not a local tax.

Like the local income tax, it is levied by the authority of the FEDERAL government for use by the territory through special arrangement.

Neither of these taxes are "our money."

The territory uses far more money than these taxes generate. The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT makes up much of the difference every year.

Every year the territory FAILS TO SPEND hundreds of millions of FEDERAL DOLLARS GIVEN TO THE TERRITORY.

Every year the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT works very hard to bring MORE FEDERAL DOLLARS into the territory.

Every year much of that money goes unspent because local officials refuse to learn how to take advantage of that money, or refuse to live up to the accountability required for the use of these funds.

Speaking for myself, the anger you may read in my words comes from my utter frustration that through you our legislature is making a flap over $6mil of unearned money when tens of millions of unspent dollars are turned back every year, most shockingly by the territorial board of education.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 3:26 pm
islandjoan
(@islandjoan)
Trusted Member

Maybe it was not an attack per se, but it was certainly rude to say the following:

Ergo your knee jerk assumption is that I don't have the time to do both? My guess is that I've expended way more "real" hands-on time working to better my community than you've expended signing online petitions - so with that in mind you can gently insert your "rampant Apathy" comment where it best belongs. big grin

However maybe the big grin was meant to offset the rudeness?
Maybe the word "gently" was meant to soften the rudeness?

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Posted : October 27, 2015 3:29 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Gotta agree with island's.
That comment was unnecessary and rude.
Even the BIG grin can't soften it.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 4:30 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

The U.S. Virgin Islands are outside the U.S. Customs zone which is how the VI became known as a duty free port. When those laws were written, many high priced goods were allowed in duty free. Almost everything else is assessed a local duty which may be higher or lower than U.S. duty.

If we eliminated duties, we could possibly better compete with St Marten for shopping.

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Posted : October 27, 2015 5:37 pm
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