JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Aggrieved taxpayers can now avoid lengthy court sessions by having their disputes quickly resolved at the newly established Revenue Appeals Division (RAD).
  • The division, located at the Office Centre Building, Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston, was officially launched during a ceremony at that location on Wednesday, July 22.
  • The RAD, which became operational on July 1, 2015, was created under the Revenue Appeals Division Act, 2015 to adjudicate appeals against decisions of Revenue Commissioners.

Aggrieved taxpayers can now avoid lengthy court sessions by having their disputes quickly resolved at the newly established Revenue Appeals Division (RAD).

The division, located at the Office Centre Building, Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston, was officially launched during a ceremony at that location on Wednesday, July 22.

The RAD, which became operational on July 1, 2015, was created under the Revenue Appeals Division Act, 2015 to adjudicate appeals against decisions of Revenue Commissioners.

The division, which falls under the Ministry of Finance and Planning, will operate a simplified, time saving and cost effective system focused on helping taxpayers resolve appeals related to tax assessments from revenue departments such as the Tax Administration Jamaica (JAJ) and Jamaica Customs Agency.

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, who was on hand to cut the ribbon to symbolise the division’s official opening, said the new entity adds another critical layer to the Government’s tax reform process.

“(We have) instituted an arm’s length independent revenue appeals process for the taxpayers, who have disputes with Tax Administration Jamaica, (which) offers them the assurance that their dispute will be heard independently, fairly, and quickly in accordance with internationally accepted rules,” the Minister said.

In his remarks, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Robert Ready, said Canada supports Jamaica in its tax reform agenda, and has been working closely with the country on public financial management and reform issues.

He noted that Canada provided support for the establishment of the department through the Canada-Americas Business Environment Reform Project, which is a regional initiative to support reform programmes of selected governments to improve the business environment.

“Our support here in Jamaica under this project, takes the form of a financial contribution to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to do work here in Jamaica that supports their work on this and other aspects of tax simplification. This is an important step today to improve the climate for doing business in Jamaica,” he noted.

For his part, Operations Officer, Investment Climate, World Bank, Pedro Andres Amo, said the technical team which worked on the project is “really truly impressed by RAD”.

He noted that the IFC team, which has been to many countries providing technical support to Governments implementing reforms, is of the opinion that “RAD and its partners really stand out”.

Mr. Amo further pointed out that while the process was not easy with several technical and practical difficulties, both parties were able to work together to find solutions to strengthen the RAD to provide better service to clients.

“The result is a world class tax appeals process that we believe will be a model for other countries around the world,” he said.

In the meantime, RAD Commissioner, Deloree Staple-Chambers, gave the assurance that the division is “committed to providing a word class tax appeals process that will be fair to each party, while maintaining the integrity of the tax system”.

Under the new streamlined appeals process, taxpayers may appeal directly to the Revenue Court if they so chose. In a case where the Commissioner’s decision is disputed, there will be a right of appeal to the Revenue Court.

The new process now allows the RAD to increase the number of cases that may be considered within the same time frame. Further, it is no longer mandatory for a formal hearing to be conducted in every case. Cases will be decided on the basis of written evidence and informal meetings with the parties.

An appeal may now also be concluded by way of a settlement agreement between the parties. The Commissioner RAD is now required to issue a written decision within 60 days of receiving all relevant information pertaining to the matter.

The RAD Commissioner will report to the Financial Secretary for administrative purposes, but neither the Financial Secretary nor the Minister of Finance and Planning are allowed to interfere or influence its decisions.

In making decisions RAD is bound to follow the relevant legislation and decisions made by the court. Only the courts can overturn a decision made by the RAD.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning received technical support from the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFTAD) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The World Bank provided advice during the drafting of the new law, the streamlining of procedures and the capacity building on customer service.