The Senate, on Friday (June 28), passed the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act.
The Bill seeks to, among other things, significantly improve the State’s revenue collection process by empowering the Commissioner General of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) with the authority to mandate the provision of information, deemed useful and useable, in a format appropriate for and relevant to respective sectors.
It will also facilitate more efficient and effective execution of the powers of investigation, audit, assessment collection, and enforcement by TAJ, and improve the quality and usefulness of information furnished periodically to the agency by various stakeholders.
In piloting the legislation, Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, indicated that the revenue authorities are currently severely restricted in their efforts to promote compliance in all sectors of the economy. This, due to the inability to collect and use the information necessary to identify, register, audit, and assess specific tax payers.
“Lack of information is acknowledged to be the greatest obstacle to tax collection with some known sources of information being sealed off by law itself. Undetectable income generating activities encourage high rates of delinquency,” Senator Golding said.
He also noted that the legislation will advance the information gathering provisions of Jamaica’s tax laws into the 21st century.
The Act also intends to enable more effective exchange of information with Jamaica’s treaty partners under the various double taxation agreements, and ensure that the information provided will enable the country to meet the international standards for transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.
Section Two of the Principal Act is amended by defining a taxpayer to include a person who is liable to pay a tax pursuant to a revenue law of Jamaica. This, whether or not the person is resident in Jamaica, or may be of relevance to a treaty partner in respect of an international tax agreement.
“By enabling the tax authorities to obtain information of the type and quality which is amenable to the level of analysis, it will facilitate greater transparency and the disclosure of discrepancies and omissions by a process of comparison with information provided by other sources, including the tax payer himself,” Senator Golding said.
In his comments, Government Senator, K.D. Knight, while supporting the legislation, added that the Bill should be reviewed in a timely manner.
“The Bill has to be kept under constant review. What we have found in many jurisdictions is for there to be this constant review, keeping abreast with what is happening and if the statute is being abused, then additional safeguards (need to be) put in (to protect citizens’ rights),” he said.
The Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act is one of 12 pieces legislations that are structural benchmarks under the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement with the government programme.
The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives on June 19.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON