Acting Assistant Commissioner of Taxpayer Services, Venice Ricketts, is imploring self-employed and small business operators to utilize the services offered by the Special Taxpayer Service Programme.
Speaking with JIS News, Miss Ricketts said the programme is normally conducted from January to March of each year, to coincide with the filing period for income tax final returns. “The series, which started on January 8, 2006 is expected to continue until March 23 and is in place to assist taxpayers to file their income tax final returns before the March 15 deadline. It is intended to support self-employed persons and small business operators, such as farmers, barbers, hairdressers, mechanics, plumbers and shopkeepers,” she explained. The initiative was originally introduced in the 1980s under the purview of the Income Tax Department, which in turn liaised with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), to go out to taxpayers and provide assistance.
Now under the portfolio of the Tax Administration Directorate, which includes the Taxpayer Audit and Assessment Department (TAAD), the Tax Administration Services Department (TASD), and the IRD, the programme is co-ordinated by all three departments through the provision of auditors, compliance officers, taxpayer service staff and education officers.
The series is on a rotating basis, therefore each collectorate has set dates, making it very important for persons to check the press for information on the dates and locations. In addition, persons may call the toll free tax helpline at 1-888-TAX-HELP or 1-888-829-4357 to identify the location that is most convenient to them. “The locations are set up all across the island at the 28 collectorates or other suitable venues. Hence, there is a meeting in almost every parish in areas such as Pedro Cross, Black River; Almond Tree Restaurant, St. Ann’s Bay; Port Maria Civic Centre, Port Maria; and the Showers of Blessings Apostolic Church, Montego Bay,” she highlighted. The feedback from clients has been good as persons have been using the services offered to get assistance. “This year, approximately 138 sessions are scheduled to take place islandwide. To date, we have conducted 40 sessions,” Miss Ricketts informed. She added that 388 taxpayers have been assisted so far, with 248 returns being filed and completed as a result of the programme.
Miss Ricketts encouraged persons, especially self-employed, to keep proper records to accurately account for their income, to reflect a truthful figure when the declaration is made. She also recommended that persons keep all bills, receipts, cash invoices, tax invoices, list of expenditure to allow for easier processing and filing of returns.
The Income Tax Act dictates that persons earning in excess of the threshold, which is $169,104.00 for 2005, should file final returns. In 2004, some 1,498 persons benefited from the initiative to assist taxpayers while 1,529 persons benefited in 2005.