I am going to try to spice things up a bit and tell you about that one time I went to Jamaica. Turns out, the cruise ship I was on made a stop there and I got to look around a bit as the bus drove us to Montego Bay. Okay, maybe I just got the Cliff’s Notes version of Jamaica, but the island seemed like a nice place, at least the tourist areas. Something I found kind of odd was when the group transferred from one Jamaican chaperone to the other, they all seemed to fill in the time by telling the group about their country’s tax code.
This is my review of the beer in the short, stubby, ugly bottle: Red Stripe!
I have been dying to use that picture.
First, I got off the ship and hopped on the bus. The bus driver explained a few things unique to Jamaica, such as their habit of locals letting loose their goats off the side of the road. It served two purposes: to feed their goats and to keep the grass trim, that way the government saves money cutting grass along the side of the highways. Clever. He also explained that Jamaica had a general consumption tax and a property tax. That was it.
Later the guys on the catamaran said the same thing. There’s a general consumption tax, and a property tax, but they also explained there was a tax on some imported goods, like gasoline. Then a different bus driver again explained their tax code.
I thought that was pretty cool, if true. Maybe there are places besides the US where a libertarian can be somewhat welcome. After all, they had pretty well maintained roads, even by US standards and there was other infrastructure like overhead powerlines and sewers. They even speak English! Snorkeling with my 3 year old only created more interest; perhaps something rubbed off on this particular former British colony. This one has some awesome things to do and the people here seemed to be every bit as fun as you want them to be.
Nope. I was wrong.
Here is a basic breakdown of Jamaica by the things that people around here tend to pay attention to. As always, everyone here is welcome to call bullshit.
State Legitimized Theft
- There is a tax on real property, but it is broken down by value as determined by the Jamaican government. This table below has a breakdown of property values.
- There is also a tax levied upon the transfer/sale of real property of 5% or 1% for shares–if the capital gains made on the property exceed 37.5%. There is also a stamp duty for the same transactions of 1% of shares and 4% for real property–there are exemptions on the stamp duty for shares sold on the Jamaican Stock Exchange.
- General Consumption Tax. It’s basically a VAT at 16.5%. Taxes on some imported goods, such as petroleum products and alcohol apply.
- There is no income tax!…..if you make under 1,500,000 JMD/year. Over that, its a flat 25% unless you make more than 6,000,000 JMD/year–then it is 30%. There are also some considerations for Jamaicans living abroad vs. on the island.
- You’ll like this one. There is no tax on capital gains or inheritance.
- Minimum Business Tax: 60,000JMD/year for all corporate bodies. This also applies to tradesmen, professionals, and businesses exceeding 6,000,000 JMD/year–this tax can be deducted from an individual’s income tax. Source
JMD to USD for your reference
It is well-known that Ganja is illegal. Culturally, they don’t care. In fact, I was propositioned twice to purchase Ganja and I was on the island for about 10 hours.
Apparently, they have some serious cultural issues with the concept.
Immigration laws are quite humorous:
4.-(1) The following Commonwealth citizens (not being persons deemed to belong to the Island as defined by subsection (2) of section 2) are prohibited immigrants-
(a) any person who is likely if he entered the Island to become a charge on public funds by reason of infirmity of body or mind or of ill-health or who is not in possession of sufficient means to support himself and such of his dependants as he shall bring with him to the Island;
(b) any idiot or epileptic or any person who is insane or mentally deficient or any person who is deaf and dumb or deaf and blind, or dumb and blind, unless in any such case he or a person accompanying him or some other person gives security to the satisfaction of the Chief Immigration Officer for his permanent support in the Island or for his removal therefrom whenever required by the Chief Immigration Officer;
(c) any person certified by a Health Officer to be suffering from a communicable disease which makes his entry into the Island dangerous to the community;
(d) any person over sixteen years of age who by reason of deficient education is unable to fill up the prescribed form of declaration for immigrants in his own handwriting and is likely to become a charge on public funds;
(e) any prostitute or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have lived on or received the proceeds of prostitution; cf, the children under the age of sixteen years being dependants of a prohibited immigrant;
(g) any member of a class of persons deemed by the Minister on economic grounds or on account of standard or habit of life to be undesirable immigrants and so declared by order published in the Gazette; […] “
I tried. Jamaica is no libertarian paradise, but the goat curry is tasty.
So is Red Stripe any good? Not really. The owner of the $400,000 catamaran generously informed us the Red Stripe was on him at the boat’s mini bar, just tip the nice lady serving you. So in effect, its cheap enough that even Jamaicans give it away for free. It’s not without its charms though and certainly something I’d grab out of nostalgia for that time I went snorkeling with my family in Montego Bay. Red Stripe Jamaican Lager 2.0/5.