Tax revenues projected to grow to $824 billion — Golding

Opposition Leader Mark Golding has dismissed the Government's 2023/24 trillion-dollar, "no new taxes" budget as representative of those whom it primarily serves, as over the past seven years the tax take percentage of GDP has, in fact , ncreased.

Golding asserted that, notwithstanding the "no tax" budget presented over the last two fiscal years, with $766 billion in taxes this fiscal year and a projected $824 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, Jamaicans are being hit with a tax-intake increase of more than 34 per cent over two fiscal years.

He made the claim in his 2023/24 budget speech in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, arguing that the Government is collecting $150 billion more in taxes than in 2021/22, and $95 billion more than the $671 billion in taxes than was originally budgeted to collect for this fiscal year.

"It is worth noting that the Government projects that it will collect $824 billion in taxes in the coming 2023/24 fiscal year. That is an increase in tax collections of over 34 per cent over the two fiscal years from April 2022 to March 2024, 34 per cent increase in taxes in just two years — an increase in taxes of $208 billion from the people of Jamaica," Golding stated.

He said this massive increase in the amount of taxes collected over the past two years "brings to light just how hollow is the refrain of, 'No new taxes' that was bellowed in this House last week Tuesday".

He added that the $208 billion increase in taxes over the past two fiscal years is almost triple the accumulated inflation over the period — projected at 7.1 per cent in 2022/23 and 5.2 per cent in 2023/24.

"It comes as well in a period where people's living standards are being ravaged by the cost-of-living increases. So the cost of living a bite the people, and the taxes a suck out dem blood," he remarked, pointing out that the increases in tax collection was not limited to the last two years.

"If we look at the last seven fiscal years the tax take has increased from 24.4 per cent of GDP to 28.2 per cent of GDP, placing Jamaica among the highest-taxed countries in the world," he said.

On an individual scale, the Opposition leader argued, over the last seven years the tax take from every Jamaican (15 years and older) has increased from $197,000 in 2015/16 to $365,000, an increase of 85 per cent.

"This JLP Administration is now extracting an additional $168,000 from the pockets of every Jamaican from when they first came to office. When they come with the 'samfie' statement bout no new taxes, you know what the real story is," he said, pointing out that with the majority of the taxes being indirect, the poor and lower-income earners bear the brunt of the burden in the form of General Consumption Tax on purchases, which is projected to increase by 31 per cent to $156 billion in the coming year over what was originally budgeted in the 2022/23 fiscal period, as well as in taxes on importation for basic necessities.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter

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