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LETTER OF THE DAY - Get tough on tax dodgers

Published:Friday | May 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM


The recent quest for information by Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) at the corporate offices of Digicel has been a topic for debate, and rightly so. It gives the illusion to PAYE employees like myself that the Government is serious about collecting from everyone. And like all good illusionists, they will be able to keep the audience in awe until someone realises the truth behind the entertainment.

The fact is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of businesses operating in our major cities and towns that are evading taxes. These aren't places of business hidden in some corner. They are operated from prime real estate. They have massive billboards advertising the goods and services they offer. Step into these establishments and you may see a certificate framed and mounted proudly stating that it's duly registered.

I would want to think that inter-agency cooperation would highlight who the Government should be collecting from. It can't be that there's a list of companies and businesses registered and the authorities receive returns from only a minute fraction of those on the list.

Why are non-compliant businesses allowed to renew their registration?

If the Government, through the TAJ, wants to send a signal to the country that it is serious about eradicating tax evasion, it should pursue the evaders with the same fervour it demonstrates in trying to get more from the compliant. This, I'm sure, will yield billions more annually.

Only then will the illusion become a reality.