Sun | Dec 17, 2017

State minister lauds TAJ for improved service, compliance

Published:Saturday | November 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Finance and the Public Service State Minister Fayval Williams (right) consults with Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) Commissioner General Ainsley Powell during the TAJ’s ‘Let’s Talk Tax’ discussion forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

Finance and the Public Service State Minister Fayval Williams has lauded Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) for imple-menting reforms that have significantly improved the agency's operations and service delivery and taxpayers' compliance in filing statutory returns.

Notable among these initiatives, she says, are the Revenue Administration Information System e-services platform; the creation of a single-payment window for filing National Insurance Scheme, National Housing Trust and Education Tax returns; and the establishment of customer-care centres tailored to enhance the client experience.

Williams said that consequent on these, tax compliance has improved significantly within recent years.

She was speaking at the TAJ's first ever 'Let's Talk Tax' forum, which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday under the theme 'Tax Compliance in Jamaica'.

TAJ's Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Dave Jefferies, indicated that the agency has surpassed revenue-collection targets over the past two years, "a feat we had not achieved in the (previous) nine years".

"For 2016-17, our target was $266 billion, (and) we collected $484 billion ... and for the first two quarters of the 2017-18 fiscal year, we are already 8.9 per cent ahead of revenue collection so, we are on a trajectory of surpassing another revenue target," he said.

 

GREATER COMPLIANCE

 

Williams also noted that much work remained to be done to further increase the level of taxpayer compliance.

She said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the compliance gap for one tax type, General Consumption Tax, from 2008 to 2013, ranged between 23 and 33 per cent of potential revenues.

This, Williams explained, averaged between $20 billion and $28 billion annually, noting that this was a "large figure".

Additionally, she said that TAJ's use of third-party information, specifically utilising audits and inspections to identify delinquent taxpayers, showed a $3.1-billion revenue shortfall for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

This information, the state minister pointed out, was obtained for 724 audits conducted during the period.