WITHOUT clearly written laws, tax reform may be counterproductive, says one attorney.
"Laws in Jamaica remain unreadable, even for those with a university degree. They (the laws) can give varying interpretations," said Debbie Ann Gordon, head of the law firm Debbie-Ann Gordon and Associates.
Clarity will improve compliance and the Government can sensibly predict how much tax payments will flow in, she said.
Earlier this year, the finance minster reiterated the Government's commitment to tax reform through simplicity and efficiency in the tax system.
Nevertheless, the trend is going in the opposite direction, according to the tax attorney.
For instance, the tax rate stood at 33 1/3 per cent for companies and 25 per cent for individuals from 1986 to 2012, but the most recent amendments introduced three categorisations of companies, which require them to pay different rates.
"When you look at the section imposing the amendment says it will take effect as of January 1, 2013," she said. "But when you look at the section imposing the tax rate, based on the categorisation of companies, you see April 1, 2013 for large unregulated companies."
What's more, the definition of large companies isn't easily understood.
"Large unregulated companies mean those that have a gross annual income of not less than $500 million," she said, in reference to the amendment. "I have sought to get some clarification, and have spoken to several accountants... there are varying interpretations as to how this will be computed."
Gordon did, however, commend the Government at broadening the tax base.
Generally, broadening the tax base means the extension of goods and services subject to tax, and there is evidence of that, according to the tax attorney.
"When the Government is to put teeth to some of these revenue measures it's not always wisdom teeth, but I'm happy to say there is some wisdom," she said.