Opposition Leader Cole Simons has flatly refuted Premier David Burt’s claims that “the One Bermuda Alliance is in agreement with the PLP’s agenda to implement personal income tax”.

He was responding to the Premier’s remarks at the party’s 55th Annual General Conference on Wednesday (Jan 27), who said: “I look forward to the work of the new Tax Reform Commission and I welcome the Opposition Leader’s endorsement of the need to have a fundamental change to our system of taxation.

“When the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance joins the Leader of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party in supporting the Fiscal Responsibility Panel’s recommendation for a tax on incomes, then clearly we are past talking about whether or not it is time.”

In a statement issued on Thursday (Jan 28), Mr Simons said: “I flatly refute Premier Burt’s claims that the One Bermuda Alliance is in agreement with the PLP’s agenda to implement personal income tax. On that issue, he stands alone. His claim of our allegiance is both misleading and divisive.

“In a statement that I released earlier this week, I stated at the current tax structure is unsustainable and is no longer the right model for Bermuda. I further stated that based on recommendations from the Fiscal Responsibility Panel, there will likely be an increase in the taxes we all currently pay ie: payroll tax, land tax, licensing fees, customs duties and foreign currency purchasing tax,” he added.

“To reiterate, the OBA is not in agreement with the Premier’s agenda to implement a personal income tax on Bermudians – period.”

Meanwhile, PLP MP Jache Adams issued a follow up statement in response to the OBA leader’s remarks, saying: “The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party believes that our system of taxation is outdated and must be reformed.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Panel called for a fundamental overhaul of Bermuda’s tax system by saying Bermuda should, “broaden the tax base and move toward a more progressive tax structure on personal income that taxes earnings from assets as well as labour.

“Two days ago Cole Simons said that he supported reforms to our existing tax system that he himself said is, ‘a structure which was crafted to serve the needs of Bermuda’s past.’ Just 2 days after agreeing with reform, Cole Simons is now running away from his statement because there are too many supporters of the OBA who do not like what the Fiscal Responsibility Panel has recommended, which will make Bermuda fairer and reduce income inequality.

“Nowhere in the Fiscal Responsibility Panel’s report does it advocate for an increase in payroll taxes, customs duties, or land taxes as the Opposition Leader has shockingly called for in his statement today. Those increases will only increase the cost of living in Bermuda. All Bermudians should ask themselves, why does the Opposition Leader want to raise taxes on everyday Bermudians, rather than providing tax relief to Bermudians who need it the most.

“The PLP supports tax relief for working and middle-class Bermudians, and we believe that the wealthy should pay just a little bit more. Mr Opposition Leader, do you agree?”