It is common knowledge that death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. The saying “death and taxes go hand in hand”.is relevant in Jamaica because when a deceased person owns properties and other assets, the transfer of said assets to loved ones will require the payment of death duties to the Government.
There are two taxes payable: Stamp Duty which is payable before one can obtain a grant from the Supreme Court to call in the assets of the deceased and Transfer tax which is calculated at a rate of 1.5% of the value of any real estate owned by the deceased as at the date of death.
The Transfer Tax Act (1971) provides allowances and exceptions that can reduce the amount of transfer tax made payable on death; these include: funeral expenses, mortgage debts and whether the property was the principal place of residence.
Additionally, since April 2019, the exemption threshold was raised to $10 million. This means that transfer tax is only payable for estates that are valued over 10 million Jamaican dollars.
Death duties should be paid within one year after the deceased passing, if not done during that period, interest charges (6% per annum) will be added until that payment has been made. It is usually prudent to get guidance from an Attorney-at-Law who would advise you on how to handle the payment of death duties.
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Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)