JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has said that the Government will be “cleaning up” the country’s revenue departments as it moves to stamp out tax evasion.
He said that the culture of tax evasion has become a serious problem in Jamaica, infiltrating revenue collecting institutions, and in some cases, involves collusion between business people and persons employed to those agencies.
Minister Shaw, who was opening the 2010/2011 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday (April 8), warned that the Government will be going after those who seek to defraud the state of taxes.
“I am promising every public sector worker that is involved in any kind of act to defraud the Government that we are going to track you down and we’re going to lock you up and put away the key,” Mr. Shaw warned.
He noted that globally, tax evasion is regarded as a criminal act. “It is intentional illegal behaviour; a violation of the tax laws in order to escape the payment of tax. An example of tax evasion is deliberate under-reporting of income. If you are involved in such an activity, you are regarded as stealing from the public revenue,” he pointed out.
He said that the Government needs to send an unequivocal message that “you are not “smart” when you evade taxes, just as you are not smart when you steal or commit fraud. We will tighten the laws and increase the penalties including custodial sentences,” the Minister warned.
He indicated that the Government would be seeking to strengthen the compliance and enforcement capabilities of the Tax Administration to ensure that tax evaders and delinquent tax payers are found and prosecuted.
Cabinet has examined and deliberated on a number of proposed amendments to the General Consumption Tax (GCT) and Income Tax Acts, aimed at strengthening the capabilities of the Tax Administration.
Mr. Shaw said these proposed amendments along with other legislative changes will complement the work now being done by the tax authorities, which are further intensifying their enforcement actions against delinquent taxpayers in the 2010/11 fiscal year.
He reiterated that while there will be no increase in taxes this year, no stone will be left unturned “to make sure that we broaden the tax net, that we relieve the burden on the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) workers. Over time, when we widen the tax net of this country we can have the vision that we can lower the overall income tax rate,” he stated.

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