BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor — publications email@example.com
JAMAICA'S tax authorities have installed a new online feature designed to offer further convenience to persons paying property taxes.
According to Meris Haughton, director of communications at Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), the new feature should have been up and running Monday.
"We have just put in place what we call a property tax online query which now allows persons to actually look up their obligation," Haughton told reporters and editors at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
Property owners, Haughton explained, can go online and check the status of their property, once they have the valuation number, "and that goes back seven years, so you can see what payments were made, whatever is outstanding".
Haughton and her colleague, Sharon White, property tax co-ordinator at TAJ, as well as Calvert Thomas, senior director of the Revenue Enhancement and Resource Mobilisation Division in the Ministry of Local Government, were guests at the Exchange where they discussed property tax collection and compliance.
Haughton explained that the property tax online query service was introduced in an effort to assist persons who, during the peak property tax period between April and June, had complained that after going to the tax office they had to first check their status then go to a cashier to pay.
"With this facility you can check your status before going to the tax office, print it, then go straight to a cashier at the tax office. Or you can just check your status, ensure that you have enough funds and then go straight to the cashier." Haughton said.
The new service adds to a number of other mechanisms already introduced by TAJ to make it easier for persons to pay property taxes.
Haughton explained that property owners can now pay taxes at any of 29 tax offices TAJ operates across the island, regardless of where their property is located.
"It wasn't like that a few years ago," she said, adding that the TAJ also offers what it calls an 'out of office service' which involves staff going into communities that are far from tax offices, and setting up an office in those areas to accommodate individuals.
That service, White explained, started in August.
"Since last month we have been going into communities where we realise that taxpayers have been having difficulty coming to us because of the cost of transportation," White said.
"We actually do it on a Saturday because sometimes, because of work, taxpayers can't come to the tax office [during the week]. Last month we went to St Elizabeth. This month we will be going to Clarendon, St Ann, and Kingston — out at Harbour View," White added.
"That is what we are doing now; we're not sitting in our office waiting on the taxpayers, we're actually going to them," she said.