Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon. Audley Shaw, has warned Jamaicans deliberately avoiding tax obligations, that more stringent measures are going to taken to ensure the highest level of compliance.
Speaking at the official launch of the Tax Administration Costumer Care Centre, at the May Pen Revenue Department, Clarendon, Thursday(April 2), Mr. Shaw said a more equitable system of taxation would have to be developed, whereby more persons, across-the- board, will willingly pay their taxes.
“We need a taxation system that is more equitable, where more people across the board feel obliged to pay. It is estimated that there are at least 200,000 Jamaicans who are not paying any income tax today. If those 200,000 were to start paying income tax, we could bring the income tax rate down from 25 per cent, to start by bringing it down to 20 per cent. We could eventually bring it down to 15 per cent,” he stated.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw (second right) greets Customer Care Representative of the newly opened Tax Administration’s Customer Care Centre, Elaine Thompson (left). Looking on at right is Manager of the Customer Care Centre, Samantha Myers. The Minister officially opened the Tax Administration’s Customer Care Centre, housed at the May Pen Revenue Centre, during a ceremony on Thursday(April 2).
He said that not only would this serve to lessen the burden on the PAYE(Pay As You Earn) taxpayers, but there would be more money to spend on social services, such as roads, water and adequate school space.
The Minister also stated that it was imperative that every Jamaican learn to develop a healthy respect for paying their taxes. To help the process along, the Government will prosecute workers within the revenue department, and any other Jamaican found guilty of corruption or tax evasion.
“We are sending the signal of zero tolerance for corruption. We are not having it in our department. Therefore, more arrests are coming, and I will not rest until every one of my departments is squeaky clean. We are not going to tolerate corruption in the administration of taxation in this country, because when you rob the treasury, you are robbing the patrimony of the country, and depriving the Government of the ability to spend money on vitally needed areas of social and economic services,” Mr. Shaw asserted.
“We are putting in place systems that will take care of corruption. We have to lift up the standards, whatever sphere of activity we are involved in, including upholding the laws of the land in our tax department,” he added.
The Tax Administration Customer Care service was developed to beef-up the inadequate support received by members of the public from the Tax-Help Unit.
Persons will now be able to access a greater volume of information, via the telephone, email or Short Messaging Service (SMS). The Courtesy Reminder component will also remind taxpayers of their payment dates, so they avoid the penalties and interest charges incurred as a result of late payments.
The Centre, which is housed at the May Pen Revenue Centre, will be staffed by 15 agents, 2 supervisors and a manager. It is just one of the initiatives being undertaken at this time to improve the efficiency of the Tax Administration Department.