Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Make tax office service centres

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 4:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Successive governments have turned the searchlight on taxpayers but not on itself as one of the primary reasons why tax-collection expectations have never been met. And sometimes we are forced to ponder whether Albert Einstein has ever appealed to them - they keep doing the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. So, according to their theory, the taxpayers are tax dodgers and are unwilling to pay.

My perception and reality have made me think otherwise. I believe it is the system that is hindering many or most of our people from paying their taxes.

I went into the collectorate on Wednesday just to pay my motor vehicle registration fee (and don't tell me its month end, so I should expect the long wait). There were close to 100 persons crammed into the office with more than 80 per cent requiring the services of the cashiers. There were only two cashiers working and the only service the unit saw it fit to provide was having a staff at the door to indicate where you should join the line. What an inefficient utilisation of human resources!

If the Government is serious about tax collection, I am suggesting that it cannot be business as usual - this has not worked in the past and will never work. Our tax-collection centres cannot continue to operate with blatant disregard for the taxpayers. And while people may not quarrel as they do when they go into the banks and other private-sector entities, their time is valuable.

Tax offices must be reorganised into service centres with the entire team properly trained in service delivery. The unit head must bear the responsibility as the service leader and driver. Mystery shoppers must be employed to shop the service that the units provide, and this should form part of the performance appraisal for the entire team.

I believe that tax-collection centres should be opened beyond the normal 9 to 5. This would make the service more accessible to the needs of the taxpayers and, therefore, lessen the excuse for delinquency. Additionally, in the age of advanced technology, are we maximising the use of the technology for the ease of tax payment?

There is surely a correlation between non-compliance and the onerous system that currently exists. I expect that tax revenue will increase when Government removes the inconveniences - as defined by the taxpayers.

Pat Williams Bignall

wilbig@cwjamaica.com