The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) kicked off phase two of its customer engagement programme with a sensitisation session, titled ‘In the Zone’, on Friday, March 10.
The programme will feature several interactive educational sessions aimed at improving stakeholder engagement and heightening awareness about the efficient operation of special economic zones (SEZs) in Jamaica.
Friday’s virtual session focused on Tax Administration Jamaica’s (TAJ) role in the operation of SEZs; the benefits of these zones; and their tax compliance requirements.
Addressing the session, TAJ Technical Specialist, Colleen Williams, outlined the agency’s critical role in the SEZs’ operations.
“Our Commissioner General sits on the Board of the Authority and, in that role, he contributes to the decision making process. We also participate in the approval process for entities to operate in the zone, which is done by our Investigation Unit,” she informed.
Mrs. Williams further advised that the TAJ is involved in the administration of zone benefits in respect of domestic taxes.
“These [benefits] are tax reliefs and incentives for the SEZs that are conferred on the Authority, Developers and Occupants by Part 5, Section 42 of the SEZ Act (SEZA),” she explained.
Details of these benefits, which include Asset Tax Relief, Custom Duty Relief and Income Tax Relief, are outlined in the First Schedule of the SEZA, in respect of each tax type with which they are associated.
While the First Schedule outlines benefits in relation to General Consumption Tax (GCT), Income Tax, and Stamp Duty, among others, it does not outline how these benefits are administered.
To this end, Mrs. Williams highlighted that “the First Schedule to the SEZA must now be read in conjunction with the respective revenue law to which they relate.”
“If the SEZA says that Developers and Occupants who operate in the SEZs are entitled to Employment Tax Credit (ETC), the SEZA does not explain how ETC is administered. In this instance, you would have to go to Section 32 of the Income Tax Act (ITA) to get that information,” she indicated.
Meanwhile, Developers and Occupants are obliged to comply with the requirements of the relevant revenue laws in utilising these benefits, the Technical Specialist further advised.
One way to remain compliant is by keeping proper books and records in order to access these benefits.
“The fact that you are entitled to ETC [means] there are certain rules and regulations that are stipulated in the ITA [which you must adhere to]. If you are in the zone and do not adhere to those rules and regulations, then you will not be able to benefit from the ETC,” Mrs. Williams emphasised.
The second session in the series is slated for Friday, March 17, and will focus on recent amendments to the SEZ Act.
The Authority, through these sessions, remains committed to supporting and assisting stakeholders to ensure their businesses are not only successful, but compliant with the SEZ regime.
The JSEZA is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, with responsibility for facilitating the development and promotion of investments in Jamaica’s SEZs.
The Authority was established in 2016 under the Special Economic Zones Act.
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