Retiree: I'm being harassed for tax
I am 72 years old, and my husband and I returned from England to reside in Jamaica in 2004. Shortly after we came home in 2004 my husband became ill and he died in 2005. While he was ill in 2004, I went to a bank in Port Maria where I was told that the withholding tax I was paying on my account was too high.
The clerk filled out a claim form for me to get a refund and I took it to the tax office in Port Maria and they said I would hear from them. Around the time my husband died, in 2005, I got a letter from the tax office that said I owed $63,000 in taxes for the years 2002 and 2003. Seeing, I had not returned to live in Jamaica in 2002 and 2003 I ignored that first letter and they wrote me again.
Before my husband died I got a pension from the British government and the company that I worked for also paid me a pension. After my husband died, I started to receive a widow's pension from the UK government and I also get my company pension.
On the suggestion of my brother-in-law I made an appointment to speak with someone at the Constant Spring Road tax office. There I showed the officer some of my wage slips from England and the P60 form that set out the tax I paid annually. He told me that I was a retiree and was not to pay tax. He advised me to ignore the letters.
However, the tax office continued to send me letters, and in each letter the tax they said I owed increased. By 2008 they said I owed over $400,000.
In 2007 I appealed, and in 2011 they arranged to meet me with me at the tax office in Port Maria. At the meeting, they requested my earnings between 2002 and 2008 and asked to see my bank account. I refused to give them any information about my bank account on the grounds that it was private.
In August 2012 three officers again met with me at the Port Maria tax office. On that occasion I gave them the P60 form that showed the amount of tax I paid annually in the United Kingdom. They said that they needed to see my bank account and also wanted to see my passport to verify when I came to live in Jamaica.
I am tired of this situation, and I feel that I am being harassed. Could you have this matter clarified for me.
Apparently the assessment by the Tax Department was triggered when you filled out the form in 2004 claiming for a refund of some of the withholding tax paid on your bank account. According to The Tax Appeals Department, "if the taxpayer pays withholding tax and claims for a refund all income earned in excess of the threshhold is taxable." The threshhold is the tax-free income. For 2012 the threshhold is an estimated $500,000 and amounts earned over that are taxable.
The Tax Appeals Department said that you have appealed the amount of taxes you were assessed and have had an opportunity to state your disagreement with the assessment.
The spokesman told Tell Claudienne that the department will arrive at a decision before the end of this year. The decision will be final, but if you are not satisfied when it is handed down you can seek the services of a lawyer to take your case to the revenue court.
Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a contact phone number.