Oran Hall | The route to NHT contributions for the self-employed
QUESTION: I would like to know how I can become a contributor to the the National Housing Trust (NHT) to get financing for owning my own home I am currently self-employed. My husband resides overseas, and he makes more than $20,000 a week. We would like to get some understanding of how we could contribute to get our house. Please help us. I really do not understand the process. Thank you.
- NHT hopeful
PERSONAL FINANCE: There are several benefits that contributors to the NHT can reap, including loans to assist in purchasing, building, or improving a home. Since only contributors qualify for benefits, I understand why you and your husband would want to be contributors.
Furthermore, anyone earning the minimum wage or above between 18 years old and the retirement age is required to make contributions.
To qualify for an NHT benefit, an individual must be currently contributing to the trust; have made at least 52 weekly contributions, of which 13 must have been made in the last 26 weeks before the date of applying for the benefit; have paid up with interest any outstanding contributions due in the last three years; and be earning sufficient income to repay the loan.
As a self-employed person not contributing to the NHT, to do so, you should register by going to the tax office with your National Insurance Scheme (NIS) card, Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) card, valid identification and proof of income. You are also required to pay NIS, income tax and education tax in addition to making NHT contributions.
You are required to pay three per cent of your income as your NHT contribution. Payments are made on a quarterly basis March, June, September, and December at the Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) by the 15th of the last month in each quarter, but contributors can choose to make payments on a monthly basis using a credit or debit card, cheque or cash. Payments can also be made online using the TAJ Online Portal.
Overseas voluntary contributors are persons who are not mandated by Jamaican law to contribute to the NHT and who do not earn an income in Jamaica but wish to make contribution payment to the NHT.
To become voluntary contributors, persons should be permanent residents or citizens of the country in which they reside and should register with the NHT. Holders of work permits do not qualify as overseas voluntary contributors.
To register, they should complete the Voluntary Contributor Application Form and submit it to the NHT then make an appointment for an interview. If unable to attend the interview, they should authorise someone to represent them.
If your husband qualifies, he should complete the application form and have the following documents ready for submission to the NHT to be considered for an interview:
n NIS card;
n Tax Registration Number, which can be obtained by applying to the Tax Registration Centre;
n Valid identification such as a passport, national identification card or a driver's licence;
n Initial monthly payment, which is three per cent of his proposed monthly income;
n Proof of overseas residence such as a permanent residency card, an indefinite card, or a passport of the country of residence;
n Proof of age such as a birth certificate, passport or driver's licence; and
n Source of funds.
If he is unable to attend, his representative should present a valid identification and a letter of authorisation from him signed, stamped and dated by a notary public or a justice of the peace.
Voluntary contributors who have never contributed to the NHT are required to wait for two years before being eligible to access a benefit upon registering with the NHT. Monthly contributions must be made on time for the 12 months immediately preceding the date of the loan application. That is, payments must be made before the 14th of the following month.
Previous contributors who desire to resume making contributions to the NHT must wait one year after registering to qualify for a benefit. That is, they must pay their monthly contributions on time for the 12 months immediately preceding their loan application, meaning payments must be made before the 14th of the following month.
If your husband does not qualify as an overseas voluntary contributor, it is possible for him to ultimately qualify for a benefit by registering as a self-employed person. To do so from abroad, he can apply electronically on the TAJ website - www.jamaicatax.gov.jm. He can use the 'How To' tab to learn what to do.
He can have a representative make the application by giving that person a notarised letter of authorisation, or he can have a bearer deliver the required documents to Tax Administration Jamaica.
n Oran A. Hall, principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel. Email: email@example.com.