TAJ In The News

Chasing cheats - Tax Authority Goes After Delinquent 

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner

DELINQUENT TAXPAYERS and dodgers are being put on notice that the State will be coming at them with unrelenting force this year as it seeks to secure revenues due to the national purse.

Ainsley Powell, commissioner general of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), told The Gleaner that $20 billion in arrears is targeted for this year and signalled that the authorities would be "going for a higher proportion due to direct intervention".

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), during her recent visit to Jamaica, urged the Government to improve its collection of taxes.

Powell told The Gleaner that unlike last year when direct action from the intervention of compliance officers resulted in the collection of $9.9 billion, TAJ is expecting to collect more from intervention.

"We are going to be upping the levels of compliance activities this year," Powell said.

"Last year, we had heavy use of the court system in terms of cases that we took to the court ... . We are going that route again," Powell added.

He told The Gleaner that TAJ was prepared to sell properties where the court has ruled in favour of the revenue for levy due to delinquency. He also said TAJ would continue to rely on information provided by way of tips on its tax-cheat hotline, noting that 60 per cent of the calls have proven to be "worthwhile".

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips is expected to table bills in the House of Representatives this week to assist TAJ in securing greater compliance.

Businesses to give information

This will be an additional compliance tool, which will be used against recent amendments to the Revenue Administration Act, which allows TAJ to require businesses to submit information details relating to their depositors, independent contractors, suppliers, and business customers.

"We are using it as one of our tools in determining who is to be registered, who is to file, and a sense of what they ought to pay," Powell said. "We are utilising it to determine the accuracy of reporting."

Only 17.3 per cent of tax returns for all tax types were filed on time last fiscal year, data supplied by TAJ has revealed.

Only 28 per cent of the 14,912 companies filed returns on time, and only 31.5 per cent made payments to the tax authorities on or before the due date.

Similarly, only 21.3 per cent of returns for individual income tax were filed on time, a few shades lower than the 29.3 per cent of the 391,527 PAYE that was filed on time.

"There is an overall compliance problem, which is what we are trying to solve by getting people to file on time," Powell said. "There is a general problem of filing and paying, and as you go down into the smaller taxpayers, then it (delinquency) starts to rise because most of your larger and medium taxpayers will come in early or on time. This is where you get the bulk of the tax," Powell said.

Only special consumption tax (64.6 per cent), general consumption tax (63.4 per cent), and guest accommodation room tax (63.3 per cent) saw more than 50 per cent of expected returns being filed on time.

The Government is seeking to raise $384.3 billion in tax revenues this year, up from $360.5 billion last year.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140714/lead/lead3.html

 Now you can check your property tax arrears online

Media Entity: Jamaica Observer

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.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Now-you-can-check-your-property-tax-arrears-online_15043664#ixzz2ebWR615i

More Property Owners Rushing To Settle Tax Arrears

Media Entity: Gleaner

FOLLOWING THE publication of the names of approximately 400 delinquent taxpayers recently, property owners, in apparent dread of the embarrassment that this causes, have been rushing into the Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) to settle their debts.

Meris Haughton, director of communications at the TAJ, said: "Persons have been coming in, even those persons whose names weren't published, because we find that this also acts as a deterrent as persons are trying to make amends before they are caught."

She added: "When we take persons to court, it's really a last resort. We want to have dialogue, because we understand that times are hard, so if it is that persons are having challenges, we are willing to work out a payment plan."

Haughton also told The Gleaner that there should be no excuse for non-compliance as there are many options to make payment.

"We have boosted that area of our organisation, where we offer and provide more education to persons so that they are aware of what their rights and responsibilities are," she said.

"We have heard the complaints about the system, but generally, we find that persons play the catch-me-if-you-can game. We try to have many options in place to make it easier for persons to comply," Haughton told The Gleaner.

She said persons can also pay their taxes online, so they don't have to go to a tax office.

"We just want persons to know we are trying to meet them halfway, and our compliance measures continue."

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130904/lead/lead3.html


Taxpayer Held Hostage In Impasse

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to article in the Daily Observer dated Tuesday August 20, 2013, “Taxpayers held hostage in impasse”.

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) admits that there is a temporary suspension of the distribution of Taxpayer Registraion Number (TRN) cards and certificates printed after February 27, 2012. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to taxpayers. It should be noted however that TAJ continues to accept applications, process and issue Taxpayer Registration Numbers (TRN), as per usual. The public is reminded that the TRN assignment slips or printouts provided to individuals and organisations may immediately be used to transact business. This temporary printout/assignment slip shows the applicant’s TRN and Name, and bears Tax Administration Jamaica’s (TAJ’s) stamp

TAJ has however implemented the following measures during this period to address customer concerns as raised in the letter to the editor.

  • In cases where an institution with which business is being transacted requires verification of the TRN, another printout or assignment slip will be provided if requested.
  • TAJ is also willing to provide a verification letter confirming the individual/entity’s TRN. These can be requested at any Tax Office or the Taxpayer Registration Centre (TRC). All requests will require identification for the applicant.

Taxpayers may contact TAJ’s Customer Care Centre at telephone: 1888 TAX HELP (829-4357) for further information if required.


Communications Unit
Tax Administration Jamaica




New Tax Rules for Charitable Organisations July 15

Media Entity: Go Jamaica

Charitable organisations are being warned that they could be asked to pay more than three times the duties payable on imports if they are found to have breached the rules granting tax relief.

The warning comes as the finance ministry outlines new arrangement for the Tax Treatment of Approved Charitable Organisations.

The ministry says following the recent passing into law of the Charitable Organizations (Tax Harmonization) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2013, charities will no longer be required to apply to the Minister of Finance for tax relief.

It says this will be administered by the Jamaica Customs Agency and the Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), effective July 15.

This is an interim arrangement until the Charities Law is enacted later this year.

The finance ministry says other organisations that do charitable works, but have not been designated as an Approved Charitable Organisation by the Commissioner General of the TAJ, should take the steps necessary to become compliant.

Otherwise it says such groups should seek to work with an Approved Charitable Organisation.

The ministry is warning that the Jamaica Customs Agency and the Tax Administration Jamaica will execute post-audits from time to time.

It also says the appropriate remedies and penalties will apply where it has been determined that an Approved Charitable Organisation, which has benefited from a tax relief, is operating contrary to the provisions of the tax laws.

Read more: http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=46223


Tax office takes unusual step to solve sticker shortage

Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner

An unusually high number of motorists are taking the cheaper option of licensing their vehicles for six months instead of a year, resulting in a shortage of 2013 registration stickers at some tax offices.

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) said it is addressing the shortage, but denied that motorists are being turned away, or otherwise told that the only other option is to register their vehicles for a year. Instead, they are being offered the option of seven-month registration, the office said.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130630/business/business3.html

NONSENSE! Phillips Says Revenue Administration Act Ammendment No Spy Business

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner

John Myers, Jr.

"No, nonsense!" Phillips said, as he addressed senior journalists of The Gleaner yesterday.

"There is nothing that is untoward or even controversial about the provisions of the Revenue Administration Act," he said.

Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw had described the bill as financial terrorism on the part of the Government, but Phillips said the legislation originated with the administration of which Shaw was a member.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130621/lead/lead1.html


TAJ Head Addresses Next Generation of Tax Administrators

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013

Entity: Tax Administration Jamaica

Commissioner General of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), Ainsley Powell has advised tax administrators that the country will be depending on them to change the way tax administration engages taxpayers to collect revenues due in an equitable & cost effective manner and to foster greater voluntary compliance.

“I want to impress upon you, that as the next generation of tax administrators, you will have to redefine tax compliance, find more creative means to deliver service to ensure that we build a positive tax culture and protect the government’s revenue”, Powell said.

He was addressing participants at the official opening of the Tax Audit and Revenue Administration (TARA) Post Graduate Diploma Programme for Cohort 28, held at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) on Monday, June 10, 2013.

Commissioner General Powell told the trainees that TAJ was investing in them to ensure that the future of tax administration in is good hands. He advised that, “… as TAJ is going through its reform, the role of TARA becomes even more important. We have to develop administrators that are multi-skilled, with competences across all tax types and non-technical areas.  The new breed of tax administrators will be able to not only audit, but also to manage arrears, non-filing and registration and most importantly are customer focused”.

Powell shared with the group that as a product of the “first batch” of TARA graduates in 1986, he was well aware of the challenges that they would face over the next few months, as the programme was very intense.  He implored them to, “stay the course and take advantage of the training to become all that they can be, for the greater good of TAJ and the country”.

Twenty-nine persons, selected from 234 public and private sector applicants, are participating in the 13-month programme, which has over 50 theoretical and practical courses, aimed at developing their skills and increasing their knowledge.

TAJ, in partnership with MIND trains tertiary graduates with a degree or diploma in accounting, management studies, business administration or any other related discipline.

Diaspora Marketplace Abuzz with Activity

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Entity: JIS

The Diaspora Marketplace - a new feature of the Jamaica Diaspora Conference - is buzzing with activity as several government entities and organizations seek to promote their goods and services.

Driven by the theme, ‘A Nation on a Mission: Diaspora Partnership for Development’, the Jamaica Diaspora Conference, which is underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James, seeks to focus on Investment and Trade.

Emphasis is also being placed on traditional areas, such as Education, Health and Community Development. The conference ends on June 19.

Addressing the opening of the Diaspora Marketplace on June 17, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, said it is a signal that Jamaica is open and ready for business.

Read more: http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-105/34257



Rush to pay taxes

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Media Entity: Jamaica Observer

Kimmo Matthews

TAX Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) has reported a major increase in the number of persons visiting tax offices across the island, in the last two days, as the April 1 date for the new tax rates became effective.

Director of Communications at the TAJ Meris Haughton told the Jamaica Observer that the bulk of customers came to pay outstanding property tax, while others were making enquiries as to how much more they would be required to pay, given the recently announced increase in property tax rates.

"We have seen increase number within our offices as well as calls into our customer care centres; the volume of those calls has increased considerably," Haughton said.

Yesterday, tax administrators at the Constant Spring Revenue Service Centre said because of the rush of customers, employees were forced to work up to 11:30 pm on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Haughton said, in the future, authorities would intensify their drive to get more Jamaicans to use online options to pay outstanding taxes in order to minimise the number of persons coming into the offices.

"We have been doing a series of publications, some advertising, (and) we have been using media to advise persons of the various options they have to pay outstanding taxes," Haughton told the Observer yesterday.

She explained further that;" We have advised persons that they have the convenience of using the online options which they can use from the comfort of their offices or their homes."

Messages, she said, have also been sent to customers in the Diaspora, informing them of their options of paying their property tax online.

According to TAJ, as a result of the change in the rates, all properties with an unimproved value up to J$100,000 will now be charged a flat rate of J$1,000. Properties with values exceeding J$100,000 up to J$1 million will attract an additional 1.5 per cent for every additional dollar above J$100,000. Properties with values exceeding J$1million will attract an additional 2 per cent for every additional dollar.

The TAJ has warned that if the tax is not paid within the applicable month, then payment of tax, penalty and interest may be enforced as provided under the law.

Unpaid taxes will incur a penalty charge of 10 per cent, and interest charge of 15 per cent per annum until paid in full.

According to the TAJ, property tax payments can now be made in half-yearly instalments on April 1 and October 1 or in quarterly instalments on April 1, July 1, October 1, and January 1.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Rush-to-pay-taxes_13999056

Service With A Smile In St. Ann's Bay

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner

Gleaner Writer: Carl Gilchrist

Adding your married name to a tax registration number (TRN) card that was issued with your maiden name is relatively easy. So too is replacing a lost driver's licence.

Information about the two items came without difficulty at the Collector of Taxes, St Ann's Bay, earlier this week. It was a slow afternoon with around a dozen customers in the facility. Staff had time to exhale.

The young lady at the information counter was courteous without being overly so. She displayed a pleasant personality and was quite professional in disseminating the desired information.

She had just finished dealing with a client and motioned me to step forward. After I did, she asked how she may be of assistance.

I enquired about the process for a woman who wants to add her married name to her TRN card, which was issued prior to her marriage and bears her maiden name.

"Does she have her marriage certificate, the certified copy from the Registrar General's Department?" she asked.

I answered in the affirmative.

"She needs to bring that in along with her ID. If she has a passport with her married name, she could bring that," she continued.

She explained that the customer would be issued her number on a slip of paper that she would be able to use until the card is ready. Upon enquiring, she said the card would be ready to be picked up between six and eight weeks' time.

I thanked her for her assistance. She smiled and said, "You're welcome."

I left and went to the driver's licence section to report a lost driver's licence.

After waiting for a few minutes for the female attendant to finish dealing with a client, it was my turn to get attention.

"You may come," she motioned to me in a pleasant manner.

I approached the counter and after exchanging greetings, I enquired of her how to replace a lost driver's licence, explaining that a friend of mine had lost hers.

"There's a 'lost' form that she has to fill out. Do you want one to give her?" she asked. I replied in the affirmative.

"She has to bring it back so we can send it to Kingston," she said. She further explained that certain information that the licensee may not be able to recall could be retrieved from the information system at the office.

"When she returns the form, we will fax it to Kingston. The process takes about two weeks."

She remained pleasant. She asked if the licence had expired and I told her no. She explained then that it would cost $3,450 to replace after the information is received.

"She should need to bring an ID and a passport-size photo along with the $3,450," she said.

In September 2012, the Island Traffic Authority reported that it is issuing more than 1,000 substitute driver's licences per month, which was a 6,000 per cent increase since the police were removed from investigating claims of loss or stolen licences in 2007. 

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130221/lead/lead4.html



New Income Tax Threshold, Corporate Tax Rate Tomorrow

Published: Monday, December 31, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) is reminding that an increase in the Income Tax Threshold and a cut in the Corporate Income Tax rate will take effect tomorrow.

The income tax threshold which is the tax-free portion of one’s salary will move to $507,312 a year, up from $441,168.

This means that for weekly paid workers, the first $9,756 will not attract income tax.

For people who are paid fortnightly, the first $19,512 will not be taxed, while for monthly paid workers, the first $42,276 will not be taxed.

The TAJ said the portion of people’s salary that exceeds the threshold will continue to be taxed at 25 per cent.

For pensioners and persons 65 years and over, in addition to the increased threshold, they are entitled to a pension exemption of $80,000 and an age exemption in the similar amount.

Meanwhile, come tomorrow, the new 25 per cent Corporate Income Tax rate will take effect for most companies.

The old rate of 33 and 1/3 per cent will remain in effect for companies regulated by the Financial Services Commission, the Office of Utilities Regulation, the Bank of Jamaica,; and the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

The adjustments to the income tax threshold and the corporate income tax rate were announced earlier this year during the Budget presentation.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=42018


Overseas Residents Need TRN For Local Tax Transactions 

Published: Monday, December 17, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner


Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) says starting next year it will enforce the rule which requires persons residing or operating from overseas who do business with the tax authority in Jamaica, to have a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN).

However, this will cease as of December 31 with the new rule becoming effective on January 1, 2013.

The categories of persons to be affected by this announcement are those residing and or operating overseas and persons who are party to a transaction that is being processed in Jamaica.

People who do business with a revenue department on any matter pertaining to taxes and those liable to pay taxes, or to do anything in relation to any enactment will also be affected.

TAJ said individuals who reside overseas can apply for a TRN from the website www.jamaicatax.gov.jm.

Persons calling from the United States who want more information may call 1-888-GO-JA-TAX or 1-888-465-2829, while others can contact the office using 1-888-TAX-HELP or 1-888-829-4357.

Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=41801



Tax Office To Stop Cheats From Leaving The Island 

Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner


Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) is warning persons who are planning to travel overseas and have outstanding tax liabilities to resolve the matter speedily or face travel restrictions at the country's airports.

The TAJ says it will be issuing stop orders on delinquent taxpayers, who have undisputed liabilities and have been contacted but remain delinquent.

It said this will prevent such persons from leaving the island until the outstanding matters have been cleared or suitable written arrangements have been made to settle them.

This tax collection activity forms part of the administration’s on-going debt collection strategy under the National Compliance Plan, to counter the prevalence of tax evasion and wilful non-compliance.

However, persons in doubt are being encouraged to contact the TAJ’s Customer Care Centre at 1-888-TAXHELP (829-4357) or the nearest Tax Office.


Read more: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=41720



Great Job, Inland Revenue

Published: Thurday, November 29, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Observer


Dear Editor

All these years I have been visiting the Inland Revenue Department, Old Hope Road, to do business and November 28, 2012 was the first time that I have been there and did not have to spend half-day.

The manager, Verona Bent, was on the floor checking documents to make sure the requisite papers for the transaction were the ones in hand, advising customers where to go and informing them of the amount to be paid for the different transactions. I went there at about 8:15 am and I was out before 8:30 am. Many expressed the same sentiment I did - such speedy service never happened before!

So I am encouraging Ms Bent to continue her good work in keeping the cashiers on the ball - no time to chit-chat, as people often say they are government workers and idle the time away.




Eastern Tax Offices Reopen

Published: Monday, November 05, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Gleaner


Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) said the Annotto Bay and Buff Bay tax offices in St. Mary and Portland respectively have now been reopened for business.

“The offices are now able to operate fully, following repairs and clean-up activities in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” TAJ said in a release.

“The public is however reminded that they may still experience delays and inconvenience at several other TAJ locations, particularly the tax offices in St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary, which are still experiencing challenges with their communications systems,” it said.

However, TAJ said every effort is being made to return to normality at its entire network of 29 tax offices and other offices in the shortest possible time.

Link: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=40968



Tax Administration encouraged to go after tax evaders

Published: Monday, May 07, 2012

Media Entity: Jamaica Observer


NATIONAL Integrity Action Limited (NIA) is giving encouragement to the Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) “to intensify its effort to utilise all lawful means to reduce tax evasion, and in its conduct of assessments, particularly of large taxpayers”.

The group is encouraging the TAJ “not to be in any way intimidated by threats of any kind, whether from corporate or political sources”.

“NIA wishes to remind that no taxpayer – local or foreign – however big and well-connected, and however positive a corporate image, is above the law,” a statement from the group’s executive director Professor Trevor Munroe said.

“What is beyond dispute, as NIA has been pointing out, is that tax evasion, particularly by large taxpayers in Jamaica, is a major contributor to the inability of successive administrations to relieve the inordinate burden on PAYE taxpayers as well as the incapacity to pay teachers adequately, to provide the police with the necessary vehicles, and to acquire and maintain appropriate equipment for hospitals and clinics to serve the peoples’ health needs,” the statement said.

Link: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tax-Administration-encouraged-to-go-after-tax-evaders



Tax cheat hotline successful

Published: Friday April 27, 2012

Media Entity: Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre

Monique Grange, Assistant News Editor

The Tax Administration Jamaica is says it is working to recover at least $176 million in unpaid taxes.

The sum was arrived at based on assessments following calls to the tax cheat hotline.

The hotline was established on May 1 last year, as part of efforts to clamp down on suspected tax dodgers.

Communication Officer at Tax Administration Jamaica, Leighton Beckles, said the majority of the reports received related to under-reporting, failure to file and


Property Tax Query