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Shaw calls for review of all tax penalties, interest charges

Monday, July 28, 2014    

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OPPOSITION spokesman on finance and planning, Audley Shaw, wants the Government to undertake a general review of all penalties and interest charges across all types of taxes.

"...So that they may be adjusted generally downwards and, perhaps, more in line with international standards," Shaw suggested, as he spoke last week in the debate on the two tax Bills aimed at facilitating the collection of taxes and an improvement in the rate of compliance -- the Tax Collection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 and the Tax Penalties (Harmonisation) Act -- which were passed in the House of Representatives, last Wednesday.

According to the Opposition spokesman, there is indication that the Government plans to move in this direction, as there were proposals for reductions included in the General Consumption Tax (Amendment) Act 2014, which was tabled recently in the House of Representatives adding that it was a step in the right direction.

Shaw said that it was important for the Government to look at the interest rates on outstanding debt and what are the intermediate penalties.

"Part of the problem is, if you have interest rates and penalties that are too high and that can accelerate too fast, then you are going to make them uncollectable," Shaw warned.

"If you don't review the rates overall, then it is not if people are going to go to prison, it is when you are going to be able to build more prison space for people in Jamaica because, 'where it mawga, it going have to bruk off," he said.

"If the penalties and interests charges are going to be compounded, and people cannot afford it, they can't make blood out of stone. What is going to happen is that you are going to have to open up the prisons, because they just ain't going to be able to pay," he added.

He said that, in terms of the Tax Penalties (Harmonisation) Act, the minister must take a wider look at the total picture in terms of interests and penalties to see how they can be brought into a more manageable situation.

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