Tax Break: Government Relieving Jamaicans of $14 Billion Tax Burden

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, announces the tax breaks as he opens the 2019/20 Budget debate in the House of Representatives. (Credit: JIS) 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday March 8, 2019 – Jamaicans will be paying J$14.032 billion (US$110.3 million) less in taxes as the government reduces the tax burden as part of measures to stimulate greater business and economic activity and boost growth.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke made the announcement yesterday as he opened the 2019/20 budget debate in the House of Representatives.

The measures, which take effect on April 1st, include abolishing the Minimum Business Tax, payable by all registered companies. In addition, there will be an increase in the annual General Consumption Tax (GCT) threshold to J$10 million (US$78,603), up from the current J$3 million (US$23,581).

“This means that approximately 3,500 small businesses that currently file GCT will no longer be required to do so. Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), which currently has to see to the compliance of these 3,500 [businesses], will now free up resources, allowing them to concentrate on larger businesses and ensure they are complying. This is economic opportunity for all,” Dr Clarke said.

Also, the House is being asked to consider a proposal to supplant all Ad Valorem Stamp Duty rates payable on any instrument pursuant to the Stamp Duty Act, including the granting of security as collateral for loans, with a specific (flat rate) stamp duty of J$5,000 (US$39.30) per document.

“These Ad Valorem stamp duties are distortionary…and disincentives the very activities we want to encourage. It discourages transactions, competition, and impedes access to finance for all but particularly, micro and small businesses,” the Finance Minister told his colleagues in the House.

Other measures include a reduction of the transfer tax payable on the transfer of real property and financial instruments. It is proposed to reduce the transfer tax to two per cent, down from five per cent.

There will also be an increase in the transfer tax (estate tax) threshold applicable to the estate of deceased persons. It is proposed to increase the transfer tax threshold in the case where the estate of a deceased person is to be transferred. This threshold is to be increased to J$10 million, (US$78,603), from the current J$100,000 (US$786).

“This will allow for greater mobility of assets, which is consistent with our drive for economic growth,” Minister Clarke said.

Other measures include a proposal to abolish the asset tax payable by non-financial institutions. The structure of the asset tax was modified in 2012 to impose, on the one hand, a tax regime for non-financial institutions and on the other hand, a tax for financial institutions. The effective date for implementation is the year of assessment 2019.

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