Career & Education

Has my employer paid over my taxes to the Gov't?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, May 05, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor,

I hope you can help me. How would you treat a case like finding out your employer did not pay over your statutory deductions for 2013 and 2014?

Yours truly,

Dwayne C

Dear Dwayne C,

Thank you for your very interesting question. This is a matter for which there might not be a simple solution.

For the benefit of all readers, let us establish what statutory deductions are in the Jamaican context. They are those amounts required by law to be taken from the salaries of employees on behalf of the Government. The sums include contributions for income tax, Education Tax, National Housing Trust (NHT), and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). The law requires that these deductions, along with the employer's contribution, be paid over to the government annually.

Assuming that the information you have is from a credible source, then you would have a real problem on your hands as this will have a direct bearing on the benefits you will be able to secure, particularly from the NHT and the NIS. Additionally, as a citizen (salaried or self-employed), your own obligations for the filing of annual tax returns would also be in question.

Depending on your relationship with your employer, as a first step, you may want to ask for a meeting to inquire about the status of remittance of deductions from your salary. Ask your employer to provide this information by completing a P24 form, available from the Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ). Once you have that information you could cross-reference with the TAJ and the other agencies to verify the veracity of your source that the returns were not made. Admittedly, people are usually timid to use this approach as there is the fear of victimisation or unfair dismissal.

Another approach would be going through the relevant statutory agencies such as the NHT and NIS to request an update of the status of your contributions. Bear in mind though that at times, due to the late filing of returns or errors in the documents, the statements might not be current until a reconciliation is done. They may in turn send you back to your employer to get a letter outlining your contributions or the completed P24 form.

Alternatively, since you would be personally liable to the Government for failing to file your returns for the years unaccounted for, you could be proactive and file annual returns for those years and provide supporting evidence using your pay advice statements or the P24 form certified by your employer. Once you do that, the TAJ would become aware that the sums from the employer have not been remitted. It would then become the duty of TAJ to make contact with your employer to remind them about and urge them regarding payments. If your employer fails to respond favourably, the TAJ may send to your employer an estimated assessment inclusive of penalties or may take your employer to court.

Lastly, if you are a member of a trade union or workers' association, another approach could be to have your representative meet with your company to negotiate for the remittances to be made within an agreed timeframe.

I trusting you will be able to have this matter favourably resolved in short order. All the best.

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm


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