The Revenue Appeals Division (RAD) is reporting a major reduction in its appeals backlog from 466 to 68 cases over the last three years.
The reduction is among achievements under the entity’s medium-term strategic initiatives covering the financial periods from 2017/18 to 2019/20.
“This is the lowest inventory level in the last 10 years and we are almost current with all cases,” said Commissioner of Revenue Appeals, Dr. Deloree Staple-Chambers.
She was speaking at a Think Tank at the JIS’s Half-Way-Tree Road headquarters in Kingston on July 21 to outline the achievements of the Division as the entity marks its fifth anniversary in 2020.
Dr. Staple-Chambers noted that of the 466 appeals before the RAD as at April 2017, 65 per cent were older than 24 months.
“The Financial Secretary approved a two-year project for the eradication of the backlog. Due to the backlog project, along with strategic management of the current cases, the RAD has reduced its appeal inventory over the three-year period,” she noted.
During that same time, the Division also reduced the value of taxes in abeyance from $3.7 billion to $1.9 billion with an aim to bring that value below $1 billion.
Other achievements under the medium-term strategic initiatives include a steady improvement in stakeholder satisfaction.
Taxpayer satisfaction increased from 57 per cent in 2017/18 to 66.6 per cent in 2018/19 and to 80 per cent in 2019/20.
In addition, satisfaction of the revenue authorities with the RAD decisions improved from 75 per cent in 2017/18 to 82 per cent for 2018/19 and remained steady at 82 per cent in 2019/20.
These authorities include Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) and the National Land Agency (NLA).
The RAD was established under the Revenue Appeals Division Act, 2015 as an independent body, to hear the appeals of taxpayers against the decision of Revenue Commissioners in relation to their tax liability or customs valuation.
The entity is aiming to become a centre of excellence, and, as part of that process, is focused on implementing strategies to clear case backlogs and improve perceptions of the appeals process.
Dr. Staple-Chambers told JIS News that stakeholder consultations revealed that while persons were happy with the quality of appeal decisions, they were dissatisfied with the length of time it takes for an appeal to be settled.
“This became a key target over the medium-term. We saw from empirical evidence that the appeals function needed to drastically improve its operations to move the needle on fairness perception of taxpayers. So annually, we conduct taxpayer satisfaction surveys and biennially, we conduct revenue authorities’ satisfaction surveys,” she noted.
The RAD has set a goal of hearing 90 per cent of cases that come before the agency within 180 days, and is currently at 25 per cent in meeting that goal.