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TAJ introduces automated stamping of documents

Published:Wednesday | April 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The tax authorities have introduced automated stamping of documents at three revenue centres nationwide.

Esther McLean, the deputy commissioner of the stamp duty, transfer tax, operation division, says the new automated cross stamping and certification procedure will mean a much faster turnaround time for Jamaicans needing sale agreements and instruments of transfer to be stamped.

Designed by Fiscal Services Limited, the programme will also close loopholes for risks involving changes made to the legal documents, McLean said.

"To mitigate against risks, several new features will be automatically generated by the system, such as bar code, payment stamp and certification stamp on instruments of transfer," said Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) in a release issued Friday.

The new system will end the manual double checking of documents.

"We deal primarily with sale or transfer of real property or real estate. The process commences with the agreement for sale where both parties commit to the sale for consideration or a certain price. Implied is the right to buy at market value, so if anything seems out of whack we will double check this," McLean said.

"The contract for sale document includes the name of the vendor, purchaser, consideration and the deposit which is normally 15 per cent, as well as names of legal representatives."

Informing of liabilities

The tax official said her office informs vendors of liabilities involved, such as the stamp duty and transfer tax charges.

"Both are aggregated and must be paid before the next step," McLean said.

"Step two is the production of instrument of transfer which is the document needed by the Registrar of Titles for registration of the new owner. When we get this we cross reference, making note of the duties paid before it goes to the Titles Office. At this point, the officer would also double check to ensure that no names have been added or other changes made."

The process is now computerised, she added.

McLean said Fiscal Services was asked to write the new programme two years ago.

"We told them what we needed. The programme was written, was tested and is now ready for implementation," she said. "The teething pains have been ironed out."

The deputy tax commissioner says her division now enters the data from the receipt of the first document and stores the information on computer.

"At the stage where the document for transfer is brought to us, the system ensures that the information corroborates with what was there before, verifies and certifies," she said. "The only requirement of the officer after this is to sign. Two signatures will be there — that of the person who started the process and the verification officer."

McLean said some 1,500 documents are processed between the three revenue locations each month, sometimes more, with most of the work done at Harbour Street in Kingston and the remainder at May Pen and Montego Bay revenue centres.

The new automated certification and cross-stamping procedure seeks to enable better tracking, the TAJ also noted in its release on the new system.

It further notes that the change will improve the cost of providing the service, but did not indicate in what ways this will be achieved.

McLean said she did not know the amount invested in the programme's development.