Business

Tax dodgers, watch out!

TAJ to use data from companies to track down delinquents

Saturday, May 31, 2014    

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TAX Administration Jamaica (TAJ), as part of Government's continued drive to increase collections, will be collaborating with third party entities to get information on tax dodgers.

Director of communications at the TAJ, Meris Haughton, told JIS News that under the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act 2013, companies will be able to share information about their contractors with the TAJ.

Haughton explained that starting this year, companies will be asked to provide the TAJ with an annual report of persons they have contracted to provide services. This will help the TAJ to widen the tax base, and to determine whether persons are under- reporting, or not reporting their earnings. The first report from companies is due on June 30.

"We are going to be using this information to match it against what we have; you may have one individual who may be employed as a subcontractor with three different large companies [from which] we will be able, from our data, to pick up from that information what is happening as we have the legislative support in place to allow us to do this," Haughton said.

She said the TAJ has been receiving full support from stakeholders for this measure.

"What this strategy is seeking to do is to level the playing field and to ensure that more persons pay their fair share, so it's less burdensome on others," she said.

Prior to this legislation the TAJ had to apply to companies for the third party information, which Haughton admitted was an onerous less structured method. She noted that this legislation is used in other jurisdictions to aid compliance.

In the meantime, TAJ will be implementing a slew of measures as it seeks to improve efficiency in its collections.

According to Haughton, part of the tax drive is to improve online filing and payment of taxes. She said that Jamaicans, including those living overseas, can now pay property taxes online at the TAJ's website.

"We have been working with the Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to ensure that the word gets out there to our customers in the Diaspora," she said.

Other measures to improve tax collections include continuous training of staff; development of a citizen's charter; and public education about the consequences of failing to pay taxes.

Furthermore, the TAJ will conduct more enforcement action this year, as a last resort to delinquency, after engaging persons and making every effort to collect outstanding taxes.

Haughton told JIS that once a person is found to have outstanding arrears, a customer service representative will make first contact, and if there is no action, the TAJ's compliance unit will follow up with a range of strategies to make arrangements for payment.

"We are going to be doing more enforcement actions through the courts. We have actually gotten an additional court date on the register, so we'll be issuing more summonses, as well as publishing the names of persons who we've taken before the court," Haughton said.

She said that people who have a difficulty meeting their tax obligations to come forward and make arrangements to pay.

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