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Deputy Financial Secretary in the Taxation Division of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Paul Lai is calling on persons operating in the informal business sector to get rid of their “tax me if you can” mentality. Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ today (July 15), Mr. Lai said that there is need for improved tax administration, as only a few taxpayers are bearing the burden of the various taxes.
“This situation is unfair; only a few firms pay the majority of the tax revenues yielded from some major tax types,” he said. Noting that tax compliance in general is low, he said “there is arguably a ‘tax me if you can’ mentality, which contributes to a sizeable informal sector.”
Only last week, the informal sector came in for mention by Finance and Public Service Minister, Audley Shaw, for its contribution to the “slipping and sliding” of the economy, making it difficult for the country to achieve incremental increases in per capita income or income per head of population, a generally-accepted measure of the well being of the people of a country.
Mr. Lai pointed out that tax reform has been a critical part of Government policy for decades, explaining that the current need is on the basis that so few firms are complying with the payment of indirect taxes, such as General Consumption Tax (GCT) and Corporate Income Tax, which had resulted in too high a dependence on direct taxes, such as income and payroll.
He also argued that Jamaica’s tax system was complicated and inefficient, partly because of the lack of a uniformed rate structure, which has seen separate agencies administering different taxes, for example, HEART and Education Tax.
Mr. Lai stressed therefore, that tax reform is needed to bring about greater efficiency, simplicity, and fairness in the tax system, adding that with effective tax reform, the tax system would yield more revenue.

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