#Jamaica, November 6, 2016 – Kingston – Finance and the Public Service State Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has lauded Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) for implementing reforms that have significantly improved the agency’s operations and service delivery and taxpayers’ compliance in filing statutory returns.
Notable among these initiatives, she says, are the Revenue Administration Information System (RAiS) e-services platform; the creation of a single payment window for filing National Insurance Scheme (NIS), National Housing Trust (NHT) and Education Tax returns; and the establishment of customer care centres tailored to enhance the client experience.
Mrs. Williams said consequent on these, tax compliance has improved significantly within recent years. She was speaking at the TAJ’s first ever ‘Let’s Talk Tax’ discussion forum, which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on November 1 under the theme ‘Tax Compliance in Jamaica’.
Meanwhile, TAJ’s Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Dave Jefferies, indicated that the agency has surpassed revenue-collection targets over the past two years, “a feat we had not achieved in the (previous) nine years”.
“For 2016/17, our target was $266 billion (and) we collected $484 billion… and for the first two quarters of the 2017/18 fiscal year, we are already 8.9 per cent ahead of revenue collection. So, we are on a trajectory of surpassing another revenue target,” he said.
Against this background, Mrs. Williams contended that there is much to celebrate regarding the efforts of TAJ and the overall compliance of citizens with the payment of taxes. She commended the TAJ on its public education programme, which, she noted, was extensive and incorporated traditional media platforms such as print, radio and television as well as social media tools. She said these have been complemented by town hall meetings, seminars and workshops, noting that TAJ has also been raising awareness about the importance of taxes, among students in school.
“Representatives go in and cover topics ranging from Jamaica’s tax system, the various types of taxes, the importance of paying taxes, (to) how to start a business, and applying for a taxpayer registration number (TRN),” the State Minister said.
“The thinking, according to TAJ, is that creating awareness of the tax morale and voluntary compliance from an early stage in life will eventually lead to a culture of tax compliance,” she added.
The State Minister noted, however, that much work remains to be done to further increase the level of taxpayer compliance. She said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the compliance gap for one tax type, General Consumption Tax (GCT), from 2008 to 2013, ranged between 23 and 33 per cent of potential revenues. This, Mrs. Williams explained, averaged between $20 billion and $28 billion annually, noting that this was a “large figure”.
Additionally, she said the TAJ’s use of third-party information, specifically utilising audits and inspections to identify delinquent taxpayers, showed a $3.1-billion revenue shortfall for the 2015/16 fiscal year. This information, the State Minister pointed out, was obtained for 724 audits conducted during the period. The forum formed part of activities marking the TAJ’s inaugural Tax Administration Week, from October 28 to November 3, under the theme ‘Making a Difference Through Service’.