Tue | Aug 22, 2017

TAJ tackling credit card fees, tax reporting

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2015 | 5:00 AM
File A tax collectorate of the Inland Revenue Departyment is senn at left at King Street, Kingston.

In pursuit of administrative changes to make tax collections more efficient, Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) says it has deployed new software and, through the Ministry of Finance, is pushing local banks to reduce fees associated with tax collections.

Credit cards are a convenient means through which to collect tax payments, but they are proving to be costly.

"When TAJ accepts payment it incurs merchant fees, which are significant," said TAJ technical specialist, Bevon Sinclair.

"I don't know the exact percentage, but what I can say is that in other jurisdictions either the taxpayer is asked to pay the merchant fees or they don't accept credit card payments. Most tax jurisdictions do not bear that cost."

The issue transcends tax collectorates, and is also a concern of the Jamaica Customs Agency and other ministries, departments and agencies - collectively referred to as MDAs - and as such is being addressed at the level of the Ministry of Finance, the TAJ said.

"MOF is in dialogue with the banks to ascertain whether they can reduce their fees," one official said.

Sinclair says TAJ is not contemplating refusing credit card payments.

Otherwise, the agency is tackling the speed of tax reporting through new software implemented in February 2015. Phase one of the RAiS (GENTAX) integrated tax software package covers registration processes, and reporting of general consumption tax, special consumption tax and guest accommodation room tax, plus telephone taxes.

"It is generates more sophisticated and accessible reporting," said Sinclair.

Previously, such reports were requested through the eGov Jamaica portal. "Now we can just go online and pull down all the reports that we need for the purposes of our compliance section," he said.

The system also facilitates online payment of all new taxes, and its interactive feature allows taxpayers to access the system directly for up-to-date reports on the status of their accounts.

'If there are queries they can send them immediately via email so we can deal with it. All the taxes that have been rolled out will facilitate online

payment. The most import thing is far more user-friendly and instant access to status

of accounts," the technical specialist said.

Meanwhile, the results of the new tax gap study on GCT compliance, prepared with technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is ready but not yet public.

The previous estimate of the tax gap comes from the draft National Compliance Plan for 2012-2015 prepared by Tax Administration Jamaica, which found that the potential tax gap for taxes on income and profits and taxes on consumption was around $41 billion.

The voluntary compliance rates for the income and profits was then estimated at 86.6 per cent while that for consumption was estimated at 94.8 per cent. That study was conducted by an IMF consultant and funded by the IDB.

The new study will be released after sign-off by the financial secretary at the Ministry of Finance, TAJ said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com