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What is NHT?

NHT is the National Housing Trust Act, in this Tax guide we look at the National Housing Trust Act (NHT) and how it affects your tax

NHT Overview

In 1979 the National Housing Trust Act was introduced and subsequently supported by Act 23 of 2005. Commonly referred to as NHT, the Act was developed to collect money from the workforce. The collections are known as NHT contributions and are payable by anyone working in Jamaica, whether a Jamaican citizen or simply living and working in Jamaica. Anyone earning the minimum wage or above, aged between 18 years old and the retirement age (65 for men and a rolling scale from 60-65 for women, see table for details) is liable for the payments. Pensioners can also contribute to the NHT by registering as a Voluntary Contributor.

Working Status

Self-Employed?

The NHT Act description of a Self-Employed person is; someone gainfully occupied in Jamaica who, in relation to that occupation, is not employed by someone (other than himself/herself) or some company (that he/she does not own).

Self-Employed persons fall in one of the following 7 categories:

  • Persons working for themselves, who may or may not have anyone else working for them, or who have employees who are not required by law to make NHT contributions.
  • Persons who are already earning and contributing under the regular payroll of a company or agency but who are also involved in additional income earning activities.
  • Persons employed to registered companies as private consultants/contractors (That is, persons employed under a CONTRACT FOR SERVICE who, for example, provide their own tools and other resources to do the job).
  • Directors of Companies who are paid Director's Fees.
  • Domestic Workers, gardeners and local care givers who work in the homes of their employers.
  • Jamaican citizens employed to Embassies, United Nations Agencies, High Commissions and Consulates situated in Jamaica.
  • Jamaican citizens employed to Jamaican Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, or Jamaican companies located overseas.

Categories 1 - 4, contribute 3% of income. Categories 5 - 7 contribute 2% of income.

Employer?

The NHT Act description of an Employer is; 'any person who has in his/her employment a person who is required to make contributions pursuant to the Act (other than as a Voluntary Contributor)'.

Employers contribute 5% of their total wage bill to the NHT. (total gross pay of all employees who are liable to contribute for that month. 2% of which is the employee contribution).

Employee?

The NHT Act description of an Employee is 'someone at/over the age of 18 and under the age of retirement, gainfully occupied in employment and not earning less than the minimum wage'.

You are considered an Employee if you are:

  • Employed in Jamaica under any contract (whether written or oral) of service or apprenticeship regardless of whether it was expressed or implied.
  • Employed outside of Jamaica under any contract (whether written or oral) of service or apprenticeship regardless of whether it was expressed or implied, by a person/company/business domiciled (based) in Jamaica.
  • Employed as a master or a member (or in another capacity as a part) of the crew of any vessel registered in Jamaica or any other vessel of which the managing owner or manager resides or has his/her principal place of business in Jamaica.
  • Employed as a pilot, commander, navigator, crew member or any other capacity aboard any aircraft flying the Jamaican flag.
  • Employed (as a citizen of Jamaica) outside of Jamaica by a Jamaican Embassy, Jamaican High Commission, Jamaican Consulate, Jamaican business/company (meaning one that was incorporated in Jamaica) or a resident abroad.
  • Serving as a member of the Jamaica Defence Force.
  • Employed under a contract of service by your spouse.

Voluntary Contributor?

The NHT Act description of Voluntary Contributor is 'someone who (on application) has been granted a certificate authorizing him/her to make voluntary contributions'.

Pensioners can also register as a Voluntary Contributor, if they wish to contribute to the NHT.

Please note

  • Voluntary Contributors must have paid 2 years of contributions, of which 1 year must be paid in the period leading up to the date of application, in order to qualify for loans.
  • Voluntary Contributors may apply for contribution refunds, which will be paid directly to the Contributor in Jamaican Dollars. If the Contributor is an NHT Mortgagor, then the refund will be applied to the principal of his/her loan account.

Registration Process

Self-Employed must register with the NHT by completing a 'Declaration of Income Form/Self-Employed Questionnaire', signed by a Justice of Peace or Notary Public. If you have registered your business with The Companies Office of Jamaica, you will first need to take and complete an Employer's Registration Form (R1), available from the nearest National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Office. When the NIS office have processed this form you will get a National Insurance Reference Number. After collecting all of the documents that you need - (NIS) card, (TRN) card, One passport size photograph, evidence of your estimated earnings, such as financial statements or cashbook, valid (not expired)up to date Photo ID (e.g. Voter ID, Drivers License, Passport) make an appointment with the NHT for an interview. A Compliance Officer will then assess the information and advise you of your required monthly contributions, along with any remedial payments (back payments that you owe).

Employers are required to register their business by completing an "Employer's Registration Form (R1)", available from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Office. It should be returned to the NIS Office for processing, after which the NIS will assign a reference number to the business. Employers must also register with the Tax Registration Centre to obtain an Employer TRN.

Employees who are required to contribute to the NHT must have valid TRN and NIS numbers, recorded and stored by the Employer, with the record of the employee's total earnings and deductions made for Income Tax, National Insurance and NHT (NHT deductions should include the number of weeks for which deductions have been made). Records are required to complete Monthly or Annual Returns, so must be accurate, full and well maintained.

Voluntary Contributors are required to complete a 'Voluntary Contributors Questionnaire and Declaration of Income Form' (different for overseas Contributors and local Contributors). This must be signed, stamped and dated by a Justice of Peace or Notary Public. They must register with the Tax Registration Centre to obtain a TRN. After collecting all of the documents make an appointment with the local NHT office for an interview. You must submit:

  • TRN card
  • One passport size photograph
  • Evidence of your estimated weekly / monthly / yearly earnings (Eg. Employment letter or pay slips for the last 2 months)
  • Valid Photo ID (eg Voter's ID, Driver's License, Passport)
  • Photocopies of any of these documents will need to be signed, stamped and dated by a Notary public (for overseas residents) or a Justice of the Peace (for local residents)
  • NIS card

Making Payments

Self-Employed Categories 1 - 4, contribute 3% of income. Categories 5 - 7 contribute 2% of income. (listed above)

Employers contribute 5% of their total wage bill to the NHT. (total gross pay of all employees who are liable to contribute for that month - 2% of which is the employee contribution)

Employers and Self-Employed are required to pay monthly contributions, due the 14th day of the following month (ie if you earn in January, contribution must be paid by 14th February). Payments can be made by credit card online. Alternatively, you can pay by credit/debit card, cheque or cash at any NHT Branch Office (not Service Centres), accompanied by a Deposit Voucher identifying any of the following that apply:

  • Employer name and complete address
  • Employers National Insurance Reference number and Employer TRN
  • Month and year for which the payment is being made
  • Number of employees who contributed for the month
  • NHT Applicable Gross Wages (total earnings, including commission, bonuses and fees of all employees who are liable to contribute and who contributed during that month)
  • Employers contribution: (total amount payable for the month, which is 3% of the total gross pay of all employees liable to contribute for that month)
  • Employee contributions: (total amount payable for the month, which is 2% of the total gross pay of all employees liable to contribute for that month)
  • Any penalty incurred from contributions paid after the 14th day of the following month
  • Surcharge for arrears which continued for longer than one contribution year
  • Overpayments by an Employer can be deducted from subsequent payments within the same contribution year
  • Employee contributions are paid by the Employer monthly, providing that the total amount of earnings each week reach at least the minimum wage. If employed by more than one Employer, each one should make contribution payments
  • Employers are issued a receipt from NHT of employee's contributions. Contributing employees are entitled to inspect receipts, upon request

Voluntary Contributors are required to pay monthly contributions, due the 14th day of the following month (ie if you earn in January, contribution must be paid by 14th February). Payments can be made by credit card online. Alternatively, you can pay by credit/debit card, cheque or cash at any NHT Branch Office. The rate is 3% of earnings which commences upon registration. Contributors who are assessed for periods worked in Jamaica prior to going overseas are liable for the outstanding amount, but will not be charged interest on 'contribution principal arrears' (contributions due since registration, but not yet paid). Income, due contributions and payments should be declared in the currency in which it is earned. Overseas Contributors can have a representative make the payment, but they must possess a letter of authorization signed, stamped and dated by a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace

If an NHT Mortgagor, any contribution arrears payments will be deducted from mortgage payments as per the mortgage deed.

Annual Returns

Employers use the Annual Return to account for the statutory contributions paid by Employer and Employees. It identifies contributing employees by name, NIS Number, TRN and states total contributions paid by each employee for that year. The Annual Return Form must be completed and submitted after the end of each calendar year with a deadline of 31st March. (ie The Annual Return for 2014 is due no later than March 31, 2015).

Self-employed with no 'contribution liable' employees, should submit a "Nil Annual Return". Accurate and full information must be provided, here is the official guidance on filling out the Annual Return.

Benefits

  • The NHT will issue a Clearance Letter to the Employer and the Self-Employed for being compliant. The Clearance Letter is a prerequisite for a company to be issued a Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC)
  • Compliant Self-Employed Contributors are eligible for loans to assist with building, buying, repairing or improving homes
  • Self-Employed Contributors, employees and Voluntary Contributors are entitled to access a refund (with interest) on payments made to the Trust
  • Housing benefits
  • Employer contributions to the NHT qualifies for tax exemption, treated as expenses incurred in acquiring income
  • Employers who paid NHT contributions between 1976 and 1979 are entitled to an annual bonus on these contributions

Penalties

Employers and Self-Employed are subject to a current penalty charge of 20% per year for late submissions.

In addition to the above, a surcharge of 10% will be payable on the penalty and any arrears.

Employers withholding information from the NHT regarding contributions or Annual Returns can be fined $30,000 or 3 times the amount of the unpaid contributions, whichever is the greater.

Failure to make contribution payments make it ineligible to apply for either housing benefit loans or contribution refunds, for that person.

Clearance Letter

Applicable for Employers, employees and Self-Employed, the Clearance Letter document is issued by the NHT to a business or individual, verifying status of contribution payments, Annual Returns and any arrears. It is a pre-requisite for obtaining a Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) from the Inland Revenue

The TCC document is issued by the Inland Revenue as proof that payments of tax liabilities and wage-related statutory deductions are up-to-date. It may be needed for obtaining licenses, citizenship, work permits, security firm registration, tendering contracts and for importation.

Employers, Employees and Self-Employed can obtain a Clearance Letter by speaking with a Compliance Officer at the NHT

Self-Employed must submit:

  • Declaration of Income Form/Self-Employed Questionnaire
  • TRN Card
  • NIS Card
  • Passport-size photograph
  • Expired TCC
  • Income Tax Assessment (if any)
  • Financial Statements (if any)
  • NIS Clearance Letter
  • Identification (Driver's license, National/Voter's ID, Passport)
  • Purpose of clearance (E.g. Documents for whatever is being imported or Contract/Tender information)

New employers must submit:

  • Completed Employer Customer Information File (CIF) for registration
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Articles of Incorporation (replacing Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association)
  • Clearance Letter from the NIS Office
  • TRN slip

Returning employers must submit:

  • Expired TCC
  • Last three (3) contributions payment receipts
  • Outstanding Annual Return (if any)

Employees must submit:

  • Completed National Housing Trust Employed/Self-Employed/Overseas contributors questionnaire
  • TRN Card (NHT will accept drivers licence if TRN card unavailable)
  • NIS Card (NHT will accept pay slips if they have NIS number, if NIS card unavailable)
  • Last three pay slips or current job letter
  • Photographic Identification (Driver's license, National/Voter's ID, Passport)
  • Purpose of clearance (E.g. Documents for whatever is being imported or Contract/Tender information)

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