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Jamaica's House of Representatives, on June 19, 2013, passed the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act, following concerns raised by the Opposition about some of the provisions in the legislation, which seeks to, among other things, bring about significant improvements in the ability of the tax authorities to collect taxes.
In supporting the legislation, Attorney General Patrick Atkinson said it is well known that tax evasion is a major problem in Jamaica.
"It's the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) workers, who bear the brunt of running this country. Principally, what it does is seek to enable the government to be able to collect taxes, which are due. Most Jamaicans pay their taxes, there are a few Jamaicans who think they have a privilege not to pay taxes. In fact they look at their taxes as an inconvenience," Mr. Atkinson said.
The legislation will give the Commissioner General of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) the power to demand useful and usable information in a form appropriate to the individual sectors.
It will also facilitate more efficient and effective exercise of the powers of investigation, audit, assessment collection, and enforcement by TAJ, and improve the quality and usefulness of information supplied to TAJ by various parties on a periodic basis.
The Act also intends to enable more effective exchange of information with Jamaica’s treaty partners under the various double taxation agreements, and ensure that the information provided will allow for Jamaica to meet the international standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.
Section 2 of the Principal Act is amended by defining a taxpayer to include a person, who is liable to pay a tax pursuant to a revenue law of Jamaica whether or not the person is resident in Jamaica, or may be of relevance to a treaty partner in respect of an international tax agreement.
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, expressed concern about the definition of a taxpayer given in the Bill.
He argued that it also "stretches the jurisdiction of the Jamaican tax authority to now act as an agent for a foreign state against its citizens."
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