In its continued efforts to identify and bring tax evaders and avoiders to book, TAJ has now employed another strategy to bolster its enforcement and compliance activities with the introduction of Garnishment.
Garnishment refers to a process where a “Notice is served on a person for the purpose of legally seizing money belonging to a debtor”. Garnishment has always existed under the laws of Jamaica. However, the concept has now been incorporated into the Tax Collection Act (the TCA). Where taxes are owed, Section 40B of the TCA allows the Commissioner General, TAJ, to issue a Notice of Garnishment and have it served on a third party. Garnishment, will only be done when the Commissioner General is unable or unlikely to be able to collect from the tax debtor himself.
Garnishment may be pursued where the taxpayer owes taxes and the Commissioner General is unable to collect from the tax debtor and is unable to make a satisfactory arrangement for the payment. The Commissioner General must determine or have reasonable cause to believe that a third party holds, controls or has custody of money belonging to the tax debtor or the third party is liable to make a payment to the tax debtor or the third party will, within one year, be liable to make a payment to the tax debtor.
Outstanding money is recovered using a Garnishment Notice which informs a third party that he/she is required to pay over to the Commissioner General, monies belonging or due to the tax debtor, for the satisfaction of the tax debtor’s debt. A Garnishment Notice does not require a court order to be effective.
The Garnishee, that is, the person to whom a Notice is issued, may be any third party who is the holder, controller or custodian of monies belonging to a tax debtor. This includes:
- Banks and financial institutions
- Lessees and tenants
- Third parties involved in trading or contractual relations with the taxpayer
To date, TAJ has served four (4) Garnishment Notices which have yielded positive results in terms of formalizing arrangements for the monthly collection of outstanding sums. It is expected that this mechanism will be used more rigorously in the future.