JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Senate, last week, approved adjustments to the proposed Tax Collections (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014, and the Tax Penalties (Harmonization) Act, 2014, with 18 additional amendments.
  • The amendments are intended to improve and increase collection of the various domestic tax types.
  • Specifically, the Tax Collection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill seeks to amend the Revenue Administration Act, Income Tax Act, and Tax Collection Act, to provide additional measures to facilitate effective tax collection.

The Senate, last week, approved adjustments to the proposed Tax Collections (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014, and the Tax Penalties (Harmonization) Act, 2014, with 18 additional amendments to those advanced by the Lower House, on July 23.

The amendments are intended to improve and increase collection of the various domestic tax types. This by introducing new collection mechanisms and also achieving generalized application of some collection tools currently available only in support of the collection of certain taxes, informed Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who piloted the Bills in the Upper House.

Specifically, the Tax Collection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill seeks to amend the Revenue Administration Act, Income Tax Act, and Tax Collection Act, to provide additional measures to facilitate effective tax collection.

The additional provisions include a requirement by the Income Tax Act for all bodies corporate, including registered charitable organisations and other persons, to be prescribed to file tax returns.

It also provides for an amendment to the Revenue Administration Act to authorize the Commissioner General to provide information to Credit Bureaus under the Credit Reporting Act, regarding taxes owed by tax payers.

The Bill also provides for an amendment to the Revenue Administration Act to extend the powers of the Commissioner General, with regard to the production of information and documents, to include the Commissioner of Customs.

In terms of the Tax Penalties (Harmonization) Bill, this legislation seeks to amend the Education tax Act, and Income Tax Act, in order to increase the penalties for various offences in breach of both.  It also makes the application of penalties for similar offences under the various Acts more consistent, and removes those deemed outdated.

Specific amendments have also been made in relation to the payment allocation provision; garnishment procedure; and lien procedure

There is also an adjustment to the commencement date of the provisions, from August 1 to October 1, given that the amendments proposed by the Senate will have to go back to the Lower House in September, for consideration.

Senator Golding said the amendments resulted from issues raised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ), and Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), subsequent to the Bills’ passage in the Lower House, regarding aspects of their provisions.

“We will not arrogantly disregard the concerns of our social partners…we have listened and heard. The Government and its technical advisors consider that there is room for some flexibility to accommodate those concerns in the interest of consensus, without prejudicing the efficacy of these new measures; there is no doubt that they are strong measures. I would argue that Jamaica’s dismal performance in the area of tax collection requires us to take a robust approach,” he argued.

The Justice Minister noted that the amendments contained in these Bills are a follow up to those effected to the Revenue Administration Act in 2013, which strengthened the powers of the Commissioner General to gather tax related information.

“The provision in these Bills will allow the information now being collected, to be put to efficient use is support of tax collection. One object of these new provisions is to bring non-compliant behaviour out into the open through public records and the mass media, reducing the level of ease with which tax dodgers proceed about their business,” Senator Golding said.