Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Jamaica hostile to the self-employed

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2016 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

As far as I can see, the new raft of so-called tax-relief programmes that the Government has announced for pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) workers is just more proof that this is not a country for people who wish to start a business for themselves. Increasingly, Jamaica is becoming ever more hostile to people who want to be self-employed.

I say "increasingly" for a very good reason. I remember years ago when I decided to come out of being employed by a company and going on my own that I was prevented from insuring my car. To my surprise, when I went to my insurance company, which shall remain nameless, and inquired of the cost, I was shocked as the amount demanded was twice that I was paying while being employed. All of this even though I was the same person, with no accidents and the same car!

The reason for the hike? I was self-employed.

Now we have the Government announcing supposed tax relief for PAYE workers who earn up to one million dollars, the new income tax threshold. Of course, this makes no difference to those who are already below the existing one of a little under $600,000. However, what is interesting, or should I say insulting, is that this new plan also excludes self-employed workers who earn between the old and new thresholds.

I remember the finance minister hinting that many of us self-employed persons cheat on our tax returns, so I suppose it doesn't matter if the good will have to suffer with the bad by making us pay more taxes, even though we are earning the same, or even less than PAYE workers!

I also understand that if some of us self-employed persons are good enough to be earning more than $6 million, we would actually end up paying more taxes than corporate entities, as corporate entities pay at a rate of 25 per cent, while self-employed persons would pay at 30 per cent.

You know, I am going to urge all of those who have plans to go into business to think carefully before doing so. If you cannot get a job and have a bright idea and want to start a business for yourself, and want to pay your taxes, don't do so in Jamaica. It would be better if you migrate! Jamaica is not a country that is very tolerant of those with some initiative!

MICHAEL A. DINGWALL

michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com

Kingston