While enjoying a number of key natural advantages such as a cost competitive and talented labour pool, strategic geographic location, first world telecoms infrastructure and great physical infrastructure, the Government has continued in its efforts to simplify and enhance the environment for doing business in Jamaica. To this end, the Government recently undertook a comprehensive review of the fiscal incentive regimes in Jamaica in order to better streamline and simplify the process.
Key among these revisions was the creation of the Omnibus Fiscal Incentives Regime. This regime operates simultaneously with the other regimes including the newly established Special Economic Zone Regime and those incentives that operate outside of these newer incentives framework. As of January 1, 2014 the following legacy incentives have been repealed:
- The Export Industry (Encouragement) Act
- The Hotels (Incentives) Act
- The Resort Cottages (Incentives) Act
- The International Finance Companies (Tax Relief) Act
- The Petroleum Refining Industry (Encouragement) Act
- The Shipping (Incentives) Act
- The Cement Industry (Encouragement) Act
- The Motion Picture Industry (Encouragement) Act
- The Income Tax Act (Approved Farmer Rules)
- The Industrial Incentives Act
- The Industrial Incentives (Factory Construction) Act
- The Foreign Sales Corporation Act
This new omnibus fiscal incentives framework provides for varying levels of relief in respect of customs duties, additional stamp duties and corporate income tax. These benefits are granted via the following four (4) specific pieces of legislation:
1) The Fiscal Incentives Act
This is targeted at small and medium size businesses and provides for the reduction of the effective corporate income tax rate by applying:
- An Employment Tax Credit (ETC) at a maximum value of 30%
- A Capital Allowance applicable to a broadened definition of industrial buildings
2) The Income Tax Relief (Large-Scale Projects and Pioneer Industries) Act
This is targeted at large-scale projects and/or pioneering projects and provides for an improved and more attractive rate for the Employers’ Tax Credit (ETC). Projects to be designated either as large-scale or pioneer will be based on the decision of Parliament having been informed by an Economic Impact Assessment.
3) Revised Customs Tariff
Major revisions to the Customs Tariff include the general lowering of the tariff rates as well as the introduction of the Productive Inputs Relief (PIR). The Productive Inputs relief (PIR) allows some producers and service providers relief from customs duty and additional stamp duty on the importation of certain ‘productive inputs’, in addition to capital equipment and machinery. Additionally relief will also be granted to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors on certain products imported for use in the tourism, creative arts, and healthcare industries. Goods available domestically or from a manufacturer within the CARICOM Common market will not be afforded the relief.
4) Revised Stamp Duty Act
This is targeted at the manufacturing sector and provides exemption from additional stamp duty on raw materials and non-consumer goods.
Other incentives include:
SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES ACT
The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act became effective on August 1, 2016 and essentially repealed the Jamaica Export Free Zones Act. A Special Economic Zone, as designated by the Act, is a designated geographical area limited to specific economic activities. The SEZ regime provides a wide range of tax concessions for entities entering that regime including a maximum Corporate Income Tax Rate of 12.5%.
The SEZ regime allows for interested parties to be developers, occupants and users of spaces designated as SEZs by the SEZ Authority.
The SEZ regime does not allow for operations in the following: extractive industries, telecommunications, financial services, catering, retail trade, health services (excluding R&D), construction services, public utilities, real estate and property management and tourism services.
URBAN RENEWAL ACT
Companies that undertake development within the designated Special Development Areas benefit from Urban Renewal Bonds, a 33.3% investment tax credit, tax free rental income and the exemption from transfer tax and stamp duties on the ‘improved’ property.
INCOME TAX ACT (Junior Stock Exchange)
As of January 1, 2014, companies listed on the junior stock exchange will not be required to pay income tax in the first five (5) years and 50% of the taxable amount in the following five (5) years.
BAUXITE AND ALUMINA INDUSTRIES (ENCOURAGEMENT) ACT
Recognized Bauxite & Alumina Producers are permitted to import all productive inputs free of import duties, GCT and other port related taxes and charges.