Letters to the Editor

Land tax increase chaos created by both parties

Tuesday, April 25, 2017    

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Dear Editor,

Over numerous decades since Independence both governments have injected the notion in the minds of Jamaicans that taxing one’s property realistically is almost sacrilegious. Doing that would be the surest way to lose an election. They resorted to imposing ridiculously low land taxes.

The low tax encouraged many taxpayers to ignore their fiduciary responsibility to the tax department to pay the tax, which some regarded as too low to experience the aggravation of joining long lines at the tax offices to pay. In preference for it to accumulate for years creating mounds of delinquent taxpayers and shortfall in projected revenue throughout the four corners of the country.

The current Government, having exhausted every avenue of taxing the daylight out of us, has decided to take another slice from the sacred cow without considering the consequences. The power of the masses has forced its hand to rethink that exorbitant jump — once again exposing the strength in the political system that exploiting the vulnerability of the masses, who can snap power from the grasp of the Government, goes to the heart of true democracy.

As facts and blind political affiliation cannot justify why one party was in power for 18 years, they had all the time to examine the land tax disparity to make proper adjustments gradually across the board.

How many squatter settlements sprouted and were garrisoned in favour of one party or the other over this time? Often the party in power lacks the will to do the right thing as it does not want to be voted out of power as punishment.

Does any Government want to aggravate landowners? No, as landowners make up a large mass of the voting block and is the power base of the country and can influence which direction the power ticks. Every politician has to keep his/her base satisfied or become perennial Opposition.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw’s reversal of his tough stance regarding rolling back the land tax increase has sent mixed signals to the sceptics and others that the land tax package was not properly thought out. One now wonders if the increases, in some instances, could pass a review board if one existed.

Tax increases should not be done in a haphazard way, as reasons for non-reversal must be acceptable by the masses.

The Government should re-examine some of the perks paid to consultants and others within its own ranks to reduce the burden on the budget and refrain from haphazard tax imposition on an already overtaxed population.

Still, the scores of thousands of tax dodgers are laughing to the bank.

Opposition parties must stop blaming their counterpart when they are equally culpable.

Tony Miles






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