Overseas pensioners out in the cold
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I wish to highlight the blatant discriminatory policies by the Jamaican Government. Pensioners residing in Jamaica receiving less than $1 million 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. For example, someone who earned less during their working years has now been placed equal to, or ahead of, those who have not received the tax exemption, in addition to COLA that all pensioners get.
People who I supervised and managed are 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, minister of finance, Jamaican representatives 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 radio silence.
Pensioners living overseas continue to make contributions 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.