In a public consultation being released today (24 October 2012), Islanders are being asked for their views on improving the information that is routinely collected on the profits earned by Jersey companies.
When the current company tax regime was introduced in 2009, most companies in Jersey became subject to income tax at the new general rate of 0%. As a result, the obligation on these companies to submit annual tax computations and accounts to the Taxes Office was reduced. Since 2009, companies have been required to submit details of their income and expenses only where they have income that is subject to tax at either 10% or 20%.
It is not intended to obtain information on an individual company basis, but sufficient information to determine an approximate level of profits for companies that pay income tax at the 0% rate, so as to better understand the economy. The data currently collected centrally is insufficient for this purpose.
All information compiled by the Statistics Unit is treated with the strictest confidence and is only used by the Unit to produce aggregate numbers. Furthermore, individual company, household or personal information is not passed by the Statistics Unit to any other States department or third party.
The Government needs better data so it can understand both the nature of the activities being undertaken in the Island and the profitability of the companies undertaking those activities.
Recent scrutiny of the company tax regime by the EU Code of Conduct Group reinforced the need for the Island authorities to have reliable data on the activities of companies in Jersey.
It is proposed that the additional information needed to inform decisions about tax policy will be collected by the States of Jersey Statistics Unit. The Statistics Unit has complete operational independence in producing and publishing official statistics; it has an independent oversight group and is the central statistical office for the States of Jersey.
The Statistics Unit issues a number of surveys and questionnaires to companies each year. It is proposed to insert new questions into these surveys to collect information that is more relevant for tax purposes. It is considered that this approach strikes a reasonable balance between the competing need of the States to collect useful information with the desire of both the States and businesses to keep additional administration to a minimum.
Completion of these questionnaires is, however, voluntary. If insufficient information is collected in this way, it will be necessary to consider ways of making it mandatory to provide data, whether by requiring all companies to submit a return disclosing details of their profits to the Comptroller of Taxes, or in some other way.
The Minister for Treasury and Resources, Senator Philip Ozouf, said “The States needs to improve the information it routinely collects on the profits being earned in Jersey. This will help to support the development of future tax strategy.
“I would encourage companies and their shareholders to consider how this change to the information collected from them may affect them, and to feed back any concerns they may have.”
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 5pm on 25 January 2013.