JIS News

Government is making comprehensive efforts to cultivate “a taxpaying culture” in Jamaicans by helping the public to appreciate and understand the importance of paying taxes and advocating voluntary compliance.
Senator Deika Morrison, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, who gave the main address at the opening of a one-day Tax Services Exposition at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) on May 5, stressed the importance of taxes in the development of the country and appealed to the audience to pay their taxes and to encourage others to do the same.
“Economic survival and prosperity hinges upon the strength of a taxpaying culture and tax morale. We must make that critical link between tax revenues and economic independence. If we, by abdicating our responsibility to pay our taxes, do not provide the revenues for services for the public good, then who do we really expect to pay for them?” Ms. Morrison asked the participants.
The Tax Services Exposition was organised by MIND and the Ministry of Finance and Planning through the tax departments, and was aimed at facilitating dialogue between the taxpayers and the tax administrators as well as providing the general public with an opportunity to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Jamaican tax system, especially in relation to the tax reforms in progress. Persons attending were also able to solicit expert advice and assistance from tax administration officials on the completion of tax-related documents.
The State Minister, outlining some of the challenges with which the government was faced in trying to create and inculcate a taxpaying culture, said there was a general perception that the tax burden was too high or excessive and in many quarters, there is dishonesty or a lack of civic conscience when completing the requisite forms. “For those persons who have been less than honest with the tax authorities, please note that we have brought in expertise from the Canadian government to upgrade our audit capabilities,” she warned.
He indicated also, that the Ministry was making greater efforts to map revenue to expenditure, so that the public would be able to see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent. “It’s not that it’s not currently mapped. I think we just don’t make a great enough effort to explain to people what it is that their revenues are doing,” Senator Morrison stated.
Senator Morrison, in commending the organisers of the function, hailed the exposition as “a valuable vehicle for that critical interaction between taxpayers and tax administration officials to develop understanding with regard to legislation, regulation and processes.”
For her part, Chief Executive Officer of MIND, Maria Jones said that her organisation was pleased to have hosted the event. “The Government is working on increasing tax compliance, developing a new attitude to tax collection, etcetera. We thought there was a role for MIND to play in expanding knowledge of the changes,” Mrs. Jones stated.
Based on the overwhelming success of the Tax Expo, Mrs. Jones expects that this event could well be staged on a regular basis. The Chief Executive Officer maintained too that such activities were in keeping with the responsibilities of the institute, that is, to create knowledge.
The target audience for this year’s exposition included owners, managers and the accounting staff of small and medium-sized businesses and representatives of the five tax departments, namely, the Tax Administration Services Department (TASD); the Taxpayer Audit & Assessment Department (TAAD); the Inland Revenue Department (IRD); the Taxpayer Appeals Department and Jamaica Customs.

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