Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
With the Government desperately seeking ways to increase its tax revenues, Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke has revealed that the majority of businesses in the Corporate Area are not registered.
"The number of businesses which are not paying are actually those that are not registered, which is about 60 per cent, so here we have individuals who are not caught in the tax net at all, which suggests that this is a problem that is even bigger than the KSAC," she told The Gleaner yesterday.
She added: "I am suspecting that the 30 per cent that is compliant is the bulk of those who can be compliant."
The mayor also pointed out that businesses in areas such as Cross Roads are posing the most challenges.
"Cross Roads is a big challenge for us; and businesses in the Molynes and Red Hills areas, their percentages are very low," she said.
Making reference to business operators who have complained about being wrongfully accused of not paying their taxes, she noted that some are actually finding ways of eluding the system.
"We have some who have paid as a wholesaler but, in fact, they are both wholesalers and retailers. In some cases, it's a genuine misunderstanding but a number of our businesses do that, some don't even wholesale at all," she declared.
Brown Burke was, however, quick to point out that even though there has been some progress in persons paying their fees, there is still much work to be done.
She was also adamant that there would have to be tighter laws in order for persons to comply.
"It is unfortunate that we are a society where we have to have the big stick but if that's the route we have to take, I am of the belief we will just have to implement stiffer penalties in order to get persons to comply," she said.