Thu | May 5, 2016

Earnings lost in long tax lines

Published:Tuesday | January 1, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Persons in a line at the rear of the Cross Roads tax office in St Andrew try to beat yesterday's deadline for the amnesty on traffic tickets. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

If the figurative could come to life, then people would have seen thousands of dollar notes flying away over the past few days.

That's the money persons in long lines at tax offices could have been earning, had they been at work instead of getting caught up in the last-minute rush of yesterday's traffic ticket amnesty deadline.

Paul, a haulage contractor, said yesterday he had been in the line at the Cross Roads office since shortly after 6 a.m. but over four hours later, had still not made it inside. When asked how the long wait was cutting into his earnings, the exasperated man threw his hands skyward.

"I can't even tell you. Mi nuh know how fi answer dat one," he said.

Paul noted he gets paid "every other trip" for the day, so if there was heavy traffic yesterday, he reasoned he would not be making anything considering how slowly things were going. An animated Joan Haughton had found a makeshift seating area inside the King Street tax office. A realtor, Haughton had reached her wits end by yesterday's rush.

"My office closed early today (New Year's Eve) but I'm in sales. And you know that's a 24-hour service," she said. What annoyed her even more was that she wasn't there to pay a ticket the system says she still has for $5,000.

"I'm not paying it," she said defiantly. "And any policeman pull me over, we are going to fight."

Back and forth

Her friend, Albert Braham, who is in construction, noted the issue for him wasn't the potential money they were losing.

"It's the time it's taking, man. I have been trying to clear up this thing from Thursday," he said. "I've been here (downtown), then to Elletson Road, then to the court, then back to Elletson."

He said the system showed three outstanding tickets. The one he paid at court now settled, he was there to clear up the other two.

Meanwhile, the juice and snack vendors were doing decent business at the Constant Spring office as the line reached far outside, persons at the mercy of the sun. A group of men in the line, who work at various financial institutions, stated their day had been wasted, especially since most offices closed early. Al Grizzle, a maintenance man, noted he would be working the afternoon shift.

"So after all a this, a sleep mi a go sleep when mi go work tonight (last night)," he joked. Marvin Chambers, who got through his business before noon, felt the tax officials could have done more to help things move faster.

"Look at all that empty space," he said, pointing to an open area of the uptown locale. "You could easily have had four or five desks out there with people with laptops and debit card machines doing transactions."