Jamaica: Improving Tax Collection

Latest Jamaica Tax News: More appeals to government and citizens to improve tax collections and payments

In Jamaica, appeals are increasing to improve tax collections and payments, both for the government and the citizens. In two separate incidents in November, two prominent individuals have called for the government and the citizens to do more to cover the gap in tax collections against the set targets.

In the first incident, Richard Byles, the co-chair of Jamaica's Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) has expressed concern at tax collections being 4.2 percent short of the annual collections target. At a press conference held November on 2014, the co-chair said the government agencies need to put more effort to increase tax collections.

At September end, Jamaican tax collections stood at $169 billion, roughly $7 billion short of the target of $176.3 billion. Out of the $7 billion, a major gap in collections was in corporate taxes with a shortfall of $4.7 billion. This was followed by a shortfall of $3 billion in local general consumption tax (GCT) and $1.5 billion in GCT on imports. The gap in special consumption tax was $1.2 billion.

In November, Byles had warned the government about a proposal to increase taxes to bridge the gap in revenues. Byles had presented a similar argument that instead of increasing taxes, the government should crack down on those who are not paying taxes on time. Byles believes it is important for the government to keep taxes stable to get a favourable outcome in the upcoming wage negotiations. The Jamaican government has committed to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that by March 2016, its wage bill not be more than 9 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

In another incident, Noel Arscott, Jamaica's minister of Local Government and Community Development has asked Jamaicans to pay their property taxes on time. Arscott insisted that property taxes play a major role in the economic development of the local government. Arscott's ministry is also way behind their year-end target for property tax collections. So far they have collected only $5 billion against a target of $7.26 billion, and they have only three months to meet the remaining target. As a motivation for citizens, Arscott informed that wherever citizens have paid their property taxes on time, the government has been able to spend more on infrastructure. He gave an example of a project in Haughton Grove (Hanover).