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Stop them at the ports - TAJ plans desperate measures to collect outstanding tax revenue

Published:Friday | December 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Meris Haughton

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

WITH TAX revenues running $7.6 billion behind projection as at October, the Government is moving to place obstacles in the way of delinquent taxpayers who have to travel overseas to sustain their local enterprises.

The tax authorities are getting ready to impose stop orders, barring persons from leaving the country.

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) yesterday urged persons with outstanding tax liabilities to contact the department to have the matter resolved or face the tough action.

Meris Haughton, director of communications at
the TAJ, says the move by tax authorities is expected to have the
greatest impact on business persons and other individuals whose jobs
take them abroad on a regular basis.

However, she told
The Gleaner yesterday that the stop orders would not
be imposed until all efforts are exhausted to collect the unpaid

Not novel

It is not the first
time that this strategy to pull in outstanding revenue is being
implemented by the department.

Haughton said the TAJ
has used this method in the past and it has resulted in a positive

She said the TAJ would serve a travel
restriction notice under the Income Tax Act on tax

Following this move, a letter is written to
the chief immigration officer advising her to impose a stop order on the
delinquent taxpayer.

However, Haughton is encouraging
tax evaders to contact the TAJ and begin the process of settling their
obligations. If this is done, the tax authorities will send a letter to
the chief immigration officer to advise her that the stop order has been

In a media release yesterday, the TAJ said
the move to issue stop orders was part of the department's enhanced
compliance programme.

Debt collection

According to the tax authorities, the tax
collection activity forms part of the administration's ongoing debt
collection strategy under the National Compliance Plan to counter the
prevalence of tax evasion and wilful

"Taxpayers are strongly encouraged to
file their returns on time, pay their taxes in full, or seek to make
arrangements to pay at any tax office if unable to pay in full. Tax
evasion is a criminal offence and the tax authority will act with the
full provisions of the law to recover any outstanding amounts from tax
dodgers," the administration warned.

At the same time,
Financial Secretary Devon Rowe noted that persons who are in the tax
net are being burdened by the actions of delinquent

"To the extent that everybody pays,
everybody will pay less and to the extent that we can put measures in
place to collect these revenues, it then eases the burden to others,"
Rowe said.

Rowe said that some of the uncollected tax
is significant and said the Government "is trying to utilise all the
measures that we have available to us to ensure that we ease the burden
on those who are good citizens and are paying their