More Revenue Administrators to Assist Tax Payers

Jamaica Information Service (JIS)

Clients of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) can expect continued improvement in customer service, and the handling of their assessments, as emphasis is being placed on the training of Revenue Administrators by the agency.

This was in evidence recently, as more Revenue Administrators participated in a Tax Audit and Revenue Administration (TARA) Post Graduate Diploma Programme, administered by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND). It was conducted over 13 months, with emphasis on arrears management, filing and registration, as well as customer service.

Mrs. Keisha Rochester Thomas, who was awarded the top performer award, says it was inspiring to see that none of her fellow students had to re-sit exams, or re-do course work.

She points out that in all the courses, emphasis was placed on increasing collections, “as Tax Administration Jamaica enters a new era of extending its services online.”

Mrs. Rochester Thomas says the course taught her how to perform her tasks well, and that participants are better equipped to assist persons to meet their tax obligations.

“We must see our tax payers as clients, and if persons have debts, we can work together and create a contract for them to pay off those (outstanding) debts. I think that is what this training is about,” she notes.

“This course has prepared a new batch of individuals who appreciate going online, and being part of the new era of TAJ. I am excited, and we are looking to make our tax payers more comfortable,” she says.

For Nicholas Miller, his customer service skills have improved. “The needs of the tax payers will be addressed with more knowledge, and from a customer-centric standpoint. In doing that, I will increase the efficiency of Tax Administration Jamaica, and make Jamaica a better place,” he tells JIS News.

The TARA programme turned out its first set of graduates in 1986, and to date it has trained over 600 persons. Individuals with a degree or diploma in accounting, management studies, business administration, and related disciplines can enter the programme.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says he hopes for a time when tax compliance rates will be high, the system is fully automated, and revenue officers will deliver the best service to clients.

“That’s a future that is not beyond us. That’s a future that is within our grasp. We have to believe in ourselves, and our possibilities, and given the record of performance that was reported in the programme, we will not be disappointed,” the Minister says.

Commissioner General at TAJ, Ainsley Powell, a TARA graduate, notes that persons who have gone through the programme have received promotions to positions, such as Financial Secretary. “The TARA programme measures up exceptionally well to its purpose,” he says.

He notes that the agency prides itself in working “to serve you better, so we always seek to encourage our agents in their growth and development. The programme is money wisely spent.”

For her part, Director of Public Service at MIND, Ann-Marie Smith, says the programme represents relevance and excellence, “because it typifies the kind of partnerships and collaborations which must attend public service learning and development.”

“Significantly, it begins to provide a template for how Ministries, departments and agencies must not just work among themselves, but across sectors and even across national boundaries,” she notes.

Miss Smith is urging the graduates to use their new skills to enable tax compliance. “They should also see themselves as leaders, not just within TAJ, but within the public service generally and within our nation,” she says.

For Chairman of TAJ, Novar McDonald, the training is an investment to help the country meet revenue expectations and projections, as well as enable the participants to design career advancement.

“This training and certification programme is an indication of the administration’s regard for your ability to assimilate and eventually discharge the training to the benefit of the country and yourself,” he told the graduates recently.

Revenue Administrators investigate the full realm of tax responsibilities of each taxpayer with whom he/she comes in contact and deals with a series of situations, including delinquency, compliance and informal checks, which are tasks which were formerly assigned to officers of various agencies.