- The Revenue Appeals Division (RAD) in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has shortlisted 156 cases for conclusion under its two-year Appeals Backlog Elimination Project, which commenced on June 1, 2017.
- Deputy Commissioner of the RAD, Andrea Kelly, tells JIS News that the matters are among some 330 backlogged cases spanning several tax categories for sums ranging from $20,000 to $285 million, which the Division is seeking to conclude by the end of May 2019.
- Ms. Kelly tells JIS News that 56 of the cases shortlisted under the project are programmed for conclusion during the initiative’s first year, which ends on May 31, 2018. She says the remaining 100 matters are earmarked for disposal over the ensuing year.
The Revenue Appeals Division (RAD) in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has shortlisted 156 cases for conclusion under its two-year Appeals Backlog Elimination Project, which commenced on June 1, 2017.
Deputy Commissioner of the RAD, Andrea Kelly, tells JIS News that the matters are among some 330 backlogged cases spanning several tax categories for sums ranging from $20,000 to $285 million, which the Division is seeking to conclude by the end of May 2019.
They include out-turns for Pay As You Earn (PAYE), income tax, general consumption tax (GCT), stamp duty and transfer tax, and customs duty/value, which have been appealed by taxpayers who were assessed by the principal taxing authorities – Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) and Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).
These appeal cases are governed by several pieces of legislation, namely, the Customs, General Consumption Tax, Stamp Duty, Transfer Tax, and Income Tax Acts.
Ms. Kelly says the 156 cases, equating to approximately $2 billion in revenues, were shortlisted based on the timeline when the matters were accepted as valid appeal cases.
She notes that based on the number of “aged” cases, “we recognised that we needed to clear the backlog as quickly as possible, as we felt that it was in the best interest of both the taxpayers as well as the revenue (arrangements)”.
Once the cases are concluded, the revenue (authorities) will be able to proceed with collection of the liabilities outstanding, and the taxpayer’s case will be resolved in the fastest time possible.
Hence, Ms. Kelly adds, it was decided to implement the tax consultancy project, for which it was determined that all cases received within the Division, four years and older, should be shortlisted for disposal. She points out that the periods of the assessment spanned 1998 to 2012.
The Deputy Commissioner says preparations for the project’s implementation entailed the recruitment of four Consultants and a Project Manager. Two of the Consultants and the Manager have been on board since the project commenced.
She advises that the RAD is in the process of identifying the other consultants, and anticipates their recruitment by early 2018.
Ms. Kelly tells JIS News that 56 of the cases shortlisted under the project are programmed for conclusion during the initiative’s first year, which ends on May 31, 2018. She says the remaining 100 matters are earmarked for disposal over the ensuing year.
The Deputy Commissioner assures taxpayers and the revenue authorities that “there are other strategies we are implementing” to resolve the other “old” cases identified, in order to keep current.
Ms. Kelly points out that the delay in resolving the cases is attributable to several factors, including shortfalls in the RAD’s full complement of appeals officers.
She says that in relation to the appeals officers, while the RAD’s establishment is 12, the complement has, over the years, averaged eight, adding that conversely, there has been an increase in cases the Division has received. An average of 100 cases are received each year.
As such, the Deputy Commissioner says the Division is seeking to fill the other four openings, and anticipates that “we should have those persons in place before the end of this fiscal year in March”.
She also tells JIS News that the RAD implemented its case management system within the last year, “which should (further) help us to reduce our processing times”.
The previous system comprised manual processes, which merely tracked cases received and officers assigned to these matters.
Ms. Kelly says work under the project has, at October 31, 2017, resulted in the conclusion of 16 of the 56 cases targeted during the first year, noting that the outcomes of the decisions varied.
These included upholding tax authorities’ verdicts in terms of the taxpayers’ liabilities; reductions in the sums deemed payable; decisions being vacated, and one order being referred back to a tax authority for review and issuance of a new decision. The value of the decisions concluded totalled over $124 million.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kelly is optimistic that the initial 56 cases can and will be concluded by May 2018. This, she points out, is based on the fact that “we have a number of cases that have already been submitted to the Project Manager for review… so we are on target”.
She explains that while the RAD’s Commissioner or her deputies generally presides over hearings, the Project Manager and Consultants have been delegated under the appeals backlog initiative to hear cases.
Ms. Kelly points out that the level of cooperation from the appellants has varied, noting that “some have been very cooperative, but some have not”.
She says where persons have not complied with requests for information or evidence, “we have utilised and will continue to utilise provisions under the appeal law to resolve their cases”.
Noting that the backlog of cases has increased the close-out period for appeals, Ms. Kelly says the RAD is intent on reducing this timeline through the project’s implementation and other strategies to be introduced.
“Once we (resolve) the older cases, then our present complement of appeals/technical officers can close-out the other cases so that we can keep current. We want to ensure that the turnaround time is consistent with the international benchmark, which is between six months to one year for closure,” she adds.