How One Employee’s Vacation Leads to Avenu Expanding Globally

While vacationing in the Bahamas, Kennon Walthall, Business Development Executive, took some time to wander into a government building and learned that the country faces the same challenges of collecting taxes that our clients do.

The Bahamas is a chain of islands that includes, two main islands, New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport), “Family Islands” (i.e., Exuma, Eleuthera, Long, Abaco) and depending on who’s counting, somewhere between 700 to 3,000 islands, cays and rocks coming out of the ocean covering a 5,000 square-mile area.

The country has thousands of short-term rentals, but they do not have a system in place to manage registration, compliance and administration. This means that the government is missing out on collecting taxes rightfully owed to them from thousands of property owners. These missing tax dollars would make a large impact to adding to the government’s budget and enable to provide needed services to their citizens.

Here’s the full story in Kennon’s own words…

Several years ago, while on vacation in the Bahamas, I desired not to walk the “straw market”, but instead meandered into the government building in Georgetown, Exuma. And saw that they collect taxes! Business Licenses, Property taxes and more.

This started the journey of calling on several within the Finance Ministry and Department of Inland Revenue. Several proposals have been made along the way, but last summer, Simon Wilson, the Financial Secretary (someone known for being tough on delinquent taxes) was brought back into office under the new Prime Minister and real progress was made. Wilson asked for a proposal to collect delinquent property taxes from non-Bahamian landowners.

Sales rock-star Yolanda Watkins – Client Executive, joined to work on the deal. During one of the discussions on this service and coinciding with our entry into the short-term rental market, the new service was pitched to Wilson and Shunda Strachan, Acting Comptroller of the DIR, both of whom immediately saw the valuable service.

Avenu will be providing the Bahamas with our full-service short-term rental compliance and administration services which means new business for both our Tax Administration and Compliance Auditing teams. The administration piece is step-one of the contract with Christy Cato’s (VP, Tax Administration) team already working hard to roll out.

Congratulations Kennon Walthall, Yolanda Watkins and Christy Cato & team for finding, securing and rolling out this new logo (and new country) contract. This will open the doors for further expansion to other countries for Avenu.