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Tax reform for dummies

Published:Monday | April 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM


IN THE current Jamaican context, tax reform is needed when those who do not pay taxes elect those who decide on how the taxes are spent.

Simple fixes:

1. Cross reference the voters' list with a tax-compliant list. Saving the elderly and the genuinely challenged, remove all non-compliant people from the voters' list. Jamaican politics has made a mockery of Universal Adult Suffrage.

2. Grant no tax waivers. If you want it, pay for it. If you can't afford it, 'tun yu han' an mek fashion'. Necessity is the mother of invention.

3. There are some taxes (by whatever names) that only serve to complicate the tax issue. Keep it simple for the general public. Review or enact laws to guide the technocrats in deciding how much should do what.

4. Develop a culture of paying taxes. Even individuals on social-assistance programmes should be required to file returns. This would be symbolic on their part and statistical to the technocracy. Such an action would facilitate the development of a tax-paying culture and ensure their names are on the voters' list.

5. Make it easier to pay taxes. Utilise the post offices.

Tax reform is not about superfluous debate or unbounded calculations, it is simply about good governance. The Jamaican tax-paying public now sees through the façade of what customarily passes for national governance and are more reluctant to give their earnings to corruption and waste. If there is reformation in governance or how we go about electing those to govern, then the problems affecting the public purse would be greatly reduced.

In essence, our problems have more to do with recurring dreadful governance than it has to do with taxes.

R.A. John-Keith