Fri | May 24, 2019

Letter of the Day | Level the playing field for pensioners

Published:Thursday | August 30, 2018 | 12:05 AM


I wish to highlight the blatant discriminatory policies by the Jamaican government. Pensioners residing in Jamaica receiving less than one million dollars in pension payments are exempted from income tax. Pensioners residing overseas do not receive the same exemption. We are taxed the maximum rate of 25 per cent. This anomaly has caused severe hardships for pensioners living overseas with the constant devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, we are exposed and vulnerable. Example, someone who earned less during their working years have now been placed equal and or ahead of those who have not received the tax exemption, in addition to COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) that all pensioners get. People who I supervised and managed netting more in their pension payments than me, and this is so for many if not all overseas pensioners.

I have written to the prime minister, the minister of finance, Jamaican representative for the Jamaican Diaspora here in the United States, the Jamaican Ambassador to the United States all of whom you would expect to have influence on this matter, but instead only a radio silence. Pensioners living overseas lived and earned pension in Jamaica and continue to make contribution to the Jamaican economy by way of remittances and in kind transfers. By contrast Social Security recipients living in and out of the United States received equal tax treatment and simultaneous changes - in other words, their address does not determine their benefits.

The only equitable and fair solution is to equalise all benefits and tax treatment. I would appreciate if your newspaper would take up this matter both to address the problem and also to seek solutions.

Yvonne Kirlew