With the recent passing of the Omnibus Tax Incentives regime, a senior financial controller is encouraging her colleagues to read and interpret the act thoroughly, so that their hotels comply and reap the benefits.
Addressing the recent annual general meeting of the Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals (HFTP), Tracy Christie-Smith, president, explained to accounting professionals in the hospitality sector how the Omnibus Tax Incentives regime could affect the hotel industry.
She said it was aimed at the hospitality sector and should replace all of the incentives that were formerly given to that sector, such as some hotel operators enjoying from 10, 15 and up to 20 years' tax-break incentives, which were sanctioned by the minister of finance.
Outlining a few examples of the benefits of the hotel incentive scheme, Christie-Smith said a break on customs duties would normally be given at the minister's discretion if it was proved that hotels were legitimately importing certain goods or equipment for purposes such as renovation.
She told the members that, with the introduction of the Omnibus Tax Incentives regime, it would relieve the minister of the powers to sign off on tax breaks, which is one of the stipulations of the current agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
"The Government has approached the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and has asked for us to agree on certain things if a trade-off is to be considered. If hotels elect to accept the Omnibus Tax policy and pay their statutory taxes in full and on time, they will receive, among other things, tax credits and lower customs duties on items imported for use in the hotel sector," she explained.
She said, where there might be any ambiguity in their interpretation of the act, she was urging accountants to seek clarification with their auditors.
"The act has now been passed, so we have no choice. You will either have to elect to go one way or you will be forced into another, as the tax department will not be able to handle too many hotels doing their own thing," she said.
Meanwhile, the annual general meeting saw Christie-Smith returning unopposed as president for 2013-2014, Fitzroy Walker returning as vice-president, along with the remainder of the board returning to serve.