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Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman has advised employers of minimum wage earners, not to deduct taxes from the salaries of their employees, as the Minister of Finance would shortly issue as order to remit income tax for such earners.
Speaking at yesterday’s (Jan. 24) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Senator Whiteman explained that the order would, “indicate that tax is not payable by those who are earning at the minimum wage level and therefore that tax should not be collected from their wages”.
“That is to say, that (the) small amount of $21 per week, which would now be tax payable by those who are earning at the minimum wage, would not be collected. In fact, it is being remitted to the taxpayer as a minimum wage earner.this requires that employers of minimum wage earners do not deduct the tax. It is not a question of deducting to repay, it is a matter of not deducting the tax at all”, he explained further.
Senator Whiteman pointed out that, “the lifting of the tax threshold would not be a solution to the problem especially given the fact that the review of the taxation system was underway and was likely to result in the streamlining of the arrangement for the payment and levying of taxes. In any event, when you lift the threshold, that has implications for just about everyone else”.
Meanwhile, Cabinet has decided to amend three pieces of legislation to facilitate collection of taxes by private tax collection agents.
These include the Revenue Administration Act; the Tax Collection Act and the Financial Administration and Audit Act as well as any other acts, which are contingent upon these.
“The result of that will be that persons other than public officers will be able to act as tax collectors and the legislation will ensure that the functions of the Inland Revenue Service can be delegated to others to act as tax collectors,” Senator Whiteman said.He added that the law would also ensure that the taxpayer was protected against the unauthorized disclosure by any of these private agents of confidential information, and that the taxpayer was protected against the risk of abusive treatment.
These provisions, Minister Whiteman informed, “would preclude the collection agencies from engaging in tactics that a government agency would not. In other words, nobody will be licenced and authorised to use any unprofessional behaviour in dealing with the collection of tax”.
He remarked that the benefits of this move were evident as there would be more convenient places where persons could pay taxes. “We expect that taxes will therefore be paid and collected on time and that would increase the revenue flows of the government and of course it will reduce the congestion at the collectorates”.
He noted also, that the move would allow the Inland Revenue Department to devote more time and care to dealing with queries and complaints, which might arise from the tax-paying public. There are 28 collectorates across the island.
On another matter, the Information Minister said that some 23 pieces of legislation had been in both Houses of Parliament during the 2004/05 legislative year and that there were nine others now before the Lower and the Upper House, in an advanced state.
“When those, which we believe will be concluded by mid-February, are done, we would have overtaken the number of Bills passed last year, and there is still time to do some others,” he told journalists, adding, “we would wish to conclude by the end of March so that we start the legislative year with certain critical elements in place as we look at how to manage the economy and preserve public order in the coming year.”

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