Thu | Jul 7, 2022

The tax office circus

Published:Wednesday | May 25, 2022 | 12:11 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Since the onset of COVID-19, many businesses globally have sought to change operations for the better. But not Tax Administration Jamaica. The agency has gone from bad to worse.

TAJ has introduced a new Driver’s Licence Renewal system which has taken us about 20 years backwards. First, they try to be fancy by providing the option to pay online, giving the customer a glimmer of hope that they are becoming modernised. But not so fast!

You cannot apply for the renewal online, as you are required to complete a form, get it stamped by a member of the notary public, attach a photo to it and drop it off at the office. Upon doing so, you are advised to collect it within 30 days while you drive around with a payment receipt as evidence that you have paid, so as not to be accosted by the traffic police.

The pickup system is nothing like the drop-off, as you join a line for about three hours before your number is called. The lone security guard at the Spanish Town office door must also quell near riots as frustration mounts.

When you approach the representative at the pickup counter, there is no record of the drop-off so you must remind them of the date you delivered the application.

HUNT TO FIND APPLICATION

The representative then goes on a scavenger hunt in the back office searching through piles of folders to find your application and hopefully the completed licence. In some cases, the licence is not ready, for whatever reason.

I was asked to wait another 20 minutes until it is printed. That 20 minutes turned out to be more than two hours! The excuse given was that nobody was in office to print.

I am completely baffled as to how TAJ thought that this circus could replace a system in which we were able to walk in, pay for the renewal, take a photo and leave with a brand new licence the same day!

The system does not take into account respect for people’s time and is counterproductive. One should not have to take a day off from work to conduct simple business. This is a retrograde step in business service.

TAJ, in 2022, we are looking towards digitalisation and ease of doing business. Paying online is not enough! The ‘grand market’ situation at your offices needs to be fixed. We are being held at ransom, because if we don’t suffer through your processes, we are in trouble with the law.

In the meantime, if you are going to the tax office any time soon, be sure to take along an igloo with ice, drinks and water, plus a couple ‘bully beef’ sandwiches because you are in for an all-day trip!

SUZETTE CAMPBELL