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Story Highlights

  • Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) is attributing the increase in property tax collections last fiscal year to more collaboration with its partners.
  • Director of Communications at the TAJ, Meris Haughton, said this is one area in which the authorities work to seek to increase compliance for the payment of property tax, which is due on April 1 of each year.
  • For the 2014/15 fiscal year the authorities collected approximately $7.45 billion in property tax.

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) is attributing the increase in property tax collections last fiscal year to more collaboration with its partners.

Director of Communications at the TAJ, Meris Haughton, said this is one area in which the authorities work to seek to increase compliance for the payment of property tax, which is due on April 1 of each year.

For the 2014/15 fiscal year the authorities collected approximately $7.45 billion in property tax.

“We work in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government to ensure persons understand what their rights and responsibilities are in relation to property tax,” Ms. Haughton said, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on May 1.

In addition, she said the TAJ has worked to increase the number of channels by which persons can pay their property tax, both locally and in the diaspora.

“We have online, inline as well as we do outstation operations. That is where we go into the communities to allow persons to make their payments in a convenient manner, because what we try to do is to improve the service to improve voluntary compliance,” Ms. Haughton said.

Ms. Haughton further explained that a major part of the TAJ’s compliance efforts is to use its educational teams across the island to educate persons to ensure that they understand what property taxes are used for.

“This is where we work in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government through the property tax project that is now operational, which we intend to institutionalize in our operations as we go forward,” she added.

The educational sessions are conducted in collaboration with the parish councils and community groups across the island.

Manager of Revenue Enhancement and Resource Mobilization in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Calvert Thomas, also hailed the partnership with the TAJ for the increase in property tax recorded last year.

He said there was also great response from the theme: ‘Help us to serve you better’, that was used to help drive compliance.

“In ensuring compliance, you need to have persons within the respective parishes and communities appreciate the fact that if you pay, you benefit, and therefore there was a lot of work with the respective local authorities through the Mayors, councillors and staff to bring that message to the citizens,” Mr. Thomas said.

In the meantime, Property Tax Regional Manager with the TAJ, Stephanie Smith, said the increase can also be attributed to efforts by the TAJ to ensure court action is taken against those persons who fail to honour their property tax obligations.

She pointed out that the TAJ has increased to two, the number of court dates per month for tax delinquents.

“We do a lot of cases, because persons respond more when you take them to court and there are a lot of persons who will not pay unless you take them to court,” Ms. Smith explained.

However, she noted that prior to any court action, the TAJ uses moral suasion via telephone calls and issuing physical notices to get persons to pay their property tax.

Ms. Smith said the TAJ will continue to work with individuals who have difficulties meeting their tax obligations.

“We ask them to come in and make arrangements. If they can’t pay everything, before we take them to court, we do arrangements for them, such as allowing them to pay 50 per cent up front and we give them another three months, because you have some persons who really can’t afford it and we acknowledge that, so we give extended time to those persons,” she informed.