Several Jamaican schools dragged before the Court for non-payment of taxes

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Education Minister Ruel Reid

Several schools are now in hot water after they were dragged before the Sutton Tax Court in Kingston, Jamaica for the non-payment of taxes.

The Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) made the move to collect millions of dollars owed and have revealed that more educational institutions are to be taken before the Courts as well.

Merris Haughton, Chief Corporate Communications Officer at TAJ, said “It is not like we are identifying and targeting schools, there are a number of other entities”… she added “The bulk of it (outstanding taxes) would be the principal sum, which would also have interest and penalties accrued because of the non-payment”.

The Communications Officer reported to <<The Sunday Gleaner>> that TAJ is in talks with the administrators of the schools in respect of some elements of the outstanding amounts, but the outstanding principal would need to be paid.

According to Haughton, dragging persons or entities before the court for unpaid taxes is a last option for TAJ as matters can be made easier with dialogue.

“If they know that they are in that kind of position, what we have been encouraging them to do is to come in and explain. We have had such dialogue with other schools and then there is a stay of the court action,” said Haughton, who refused to name the schools taken before the courts.

But <<Sunday Gleaner>> sources say at least three traditional secondary schools and four upgraded secondary schools were among those taken to court.

Two principals, who admitted that their schools were among those taken to court, told our news team that they were embarrassed by the legal action and blamed the Ministry of Education for the embarrassment.

 However, in response, the Education Ministry revealed that since February 2014, taxes are paid at source by central ministry. Schools therefore no longer have to pay the taxes from the subvention they receive.

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