Taxman fed up - Authorities seize Bounty Killer's luxury vehicles
Tax officials are warning that there will be no ease-up in the intensity with which they are going after delinquent taxpayers, chief among them being entertainers, businessmen and professionals.
Yesterday, the authorities seized two high-end motor vehicles from the upper St Andrew home of dancehall superstar Rodney Pryce, otherwise known as 'Bounty Killer'.
The authorities say the entertainer, who was recently stripped of his US visa, was a delinquent taxpayer but would give no details about his case.
Pryce, whose Range Rover and a Land Cruiser were taken by the tax department's special enforcement team, is said to owe millions of dollars in taxes.
However, an attorney close to the case said the entertainer has been paying his taxes. The attorney said he has filed his annual returns and made payments, but objected when the tax department assessed him for far more than he had paid.
Communications director at the Tax Administration Department Merris Haughton told The Gleaner, "There is a serious problem with delinquency right across the board ... entertainers, business persons and professionals."
Last month, the tax department seized a luxury Mercedes-Benz motorcar from the Hillcrest Avenue home of dancehall star Elephant Man, whose real name is Oneil Bryan.
Grammy-award winning deejay 'Beenie Man', whose real name is Moses Davis, was also hauled before the tax court in 2008 for allegedly owing millions of dollars in taxes.
Haughton said the tax department was not singling out entertainers, but indicated that a number of them are in arrears.
However, since the crackdown against delinquent taxpayers, she said there has been a significant improvement in the number of persons who have come forward and made payments, or made arrangements to pay.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Audley Shaw again sounded the warning to tax dodgers yesterday during a joint press conference with representatives of the International Monetary Fund.
"I want to promise every recalcitrant, everyone who continues to plunder the public purse, be warned that we coming," Shaw said.
During his budget presentation in April, Shaw announced that the taxman would be targeting professional groups such as lawyers and doctors, and artisans such as masons who, the minister said, are not paying their fair share of taxes.
"Our goal is to stamp out this pervasive culture of tax evasion which has as its motto, 'catch me if you can'. Our response, resonant with steely determination will be, 'Yes, we can'," the finance minister told Parliament.
"We need to stop paying lip service to combating the scourge of tax evasion," Shaw said as he promised to tighten laws and increase penalties, including custodial sentences, in the fight against tax cheats.