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Parliamentary committee proposes naming of tax evaders

Published:Friday | June 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE SPECIAL Select Committee on taxation has recommended the publication of a list of tax offenders as part of a mechanism to increase tax compliance.

In its report, which was yesterday signed off on, the committee said tax authorities should publish the list of tax offenders regularly, subject to undertaking careful due diligence.

"The sanctions applicable to tax evaders should be reviewed with the intention of imposing visible criminal sanctions, including jail time, against large tax evaders (to make an example)," the committee recommended.

The committee, which considered the Green Paper on tax reform, had its last meeting yesterday.

Chairman Dr Peter Phillips said the committee demonstrated the ability to have deliberations outside of a politically polarised environment.

He was supported by Karl Samuda who said the report, when sent to the House of Representatives, would "open up lively debate".

Committee favours subsidies

Among its many recommendations is that a reduction in the rate of poverty should be a consideration in removing certain basic food items from the list that is exempt from general consumption tax (GCT).

The committee said it was in favour of direct subsidies for basic food items rather than general subsidies, as implied by exemptions. It said the Planning Institute of Jamaica should be asked to consider trigger mechanisms which would result in items being removed from the exempt list.

Some of the items included on the GCT exempt list as proposed by the committee are milk, infant formula, canned sardines, canned mackerel, cooking oil, brown sugar, rice, flour, chicken, fertilisers and prescription drugs.

In the meantime, the committee, chaired by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, has recommended that members of the tourism sector who do not file corporate income tax should not benefit from the incentives under the Hotel and Incentives Act.

It also said the Government should examine the possibility of making research and development a condition for granting tax credit or other incentives to the productive sector.

Now that the committee has completed its work, the House will consider the report. The parliamentary deliberations will be followed by the tabling of a White Paper on tax reform, which will come from the Cabinet.

On Tuesday, Phillips signalled his intention to ask the House to review the role of the Committee on Tax Measures.

Phillips wants the House to amend the Standing Orders to allow the Committee on Tax Measures to receive a report from the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee by February every year.

The report would indicate, among other things, revenue needs, borrowing needs and expenditure needs for the forthcoming fiscal year.

The Committee on Tax Measures would then be empowered to hold hearings and submit a report to the House by March each year, which would outline ways in which the Government should seek to raise revenue.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com