Concerns linger about tax evasion bills
Debbie-Ann Wright, News Editor – Radio
The parliamentary opposition continues to have concerns about two bills aimed at curbing tax evasion despite amendments to their controversial provisions.
The amendments made by the Senate to the Tax Collection Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2014 and the Tax Penalties Harmonisation Act 2014 were passed in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The amendments addressed the placing of liens on property for non-payment of taxes, garnishing of income of tax evaders and specified that monies collected from debtors would first go towards the principal amount then to any interest charges.
However, Opposition spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, was not satisfied that while Tax Administration Jamaican would have to go to court to secure a lien against a tax debtors property, the same requirement was not in place for garnishments.
He said the Government was taking a dangerous step and the law could be challenged if passed.
However, finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips countered that similar provisions are in place in other jurisdictions.
He also said it was not correct to say that other laws, such as the General Consumption tax Act, which have provisions for garnishment require a court action.
Phillips also noted that garnishing of income was a last measure which would only be taken after efforts have been made in the courts to recover the debt and after the taxpayer has already acknowledged the debt.
The bills are set to come into effect on October 1.
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