#taxes · 1 year ago

When Did GCT Change to 15% in Jamaica?

The General Consumption Tax (GCT) is a value-added tax levied on the sale of goods and services in Jamaica. It was introduced in 1991 at a rate of 10%, and since then, it has undergone several changes. One of the most significant changes to the GCT was when it increased from 10% to 15% in 2020. In this article, we will explore the timeline of this change and its impact on Jamaicans.

Timeline of the GCT Increase

The GCT increase from 10% to 15% was announced in the 2019/2020 budget presentation by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke. The increase was part of the government's efforts to achieve a balanced budget and reduce the country's debt-to-GDP ratio. The government estimated that the increase would generate approximately JMD 25 billion in revenue.

The increase was initially scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until July 1, 2020. The government introduced several measures to cushion the impact of the GCT increase on Jamaicans. For example, it increased the income tax threshold from JMD 1.5 million to JMD 1.5 million, which meant that many Jamaicans were exempt from paying income tax. It also increased the threshold for GCT registration from JMD 3 million to JMD 10 million, which meant that small businesses were not required to register for GCT.

Impact on Jamaicans

The GCT increase had a significant impact on Jamaicans, particularly those on low incomes. The increase in the cost of goods and services affected the purchasing power of Jamaicans and reduced their disposable income. For example, the cost of basic food items such as rice, flour, and sugar increased, which affected the cost of living for many Jamaicans. Additionally, the cost of services such as healthcare and education increased, which put a strain on many Jamaican families.

The GCT increase also affected small businesses in Jamaica. The increase in the threshold for GCT registration meant that many small businesses were not required to register for GCT. However, those that were required to register had to pass on the cost of the GCT increase to their customers, which affected their competitiveness in the market.

Tips and Advice

The GCT increase has had a significant impact on Jamaicans, but there are ways to mitigate its effects. Here are some tips and advice for Jamaicans:

  1. Budget Wisely: With the increase in the cost of goods and services, it's important to budget wisely. Make a list of essential items and prioritize them. Try to save money by buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales and discounts.

  2. Look for Alternatives: With the increase in the cost of basic food items, it's important to look for alternatives. For example, instead of buying imported rice, consider buying locally grown rice. Look for locally produced goods and services, which may be cheaper than imported products.

  3. Seek Financial Assistance: If you're struggling to make ends meet, there are several financial assistance programs available in Jamaica. For example, the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) provides financial assistance to families in need. The government also provides assistance to small businesses through the Development Bank of Jamaica.

  4. Support Small Businesses: Small businesses are the backbone of the Jamaican economy. If you can, try to support small businesses by buying their products and services. This will help them stay competitive and support the local economy.

In conclusion, the GCT increase from 10% to 15% was a significant change that had a major impact on Jamaicans.