Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Azlan Mohammed/AZPNews
By Chantalé Fletcher
POLITICAL leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government’s decision to implement property tax during the pandemic is “heartless and inhumane.”
She was speaking at the party’s virtual report on Monday evening.
Persad-Bissessar said, “In the middle of a pandemic, the Rowley government was seeking now to impose this dreaded tax on every citizen. And don’t think you are escaping because you don’t own property. You can be charged directly by the tax and you can be indirectly affected adversely by the tax.”
She said, “First of all, every single owner of property has to file a valuation form with the Valuations Division. They have now made you criminally responsible and liable should you fail to file that form late, you face $5,000 fine.”
Persad-Bissessar said, “If you’re an owner, you’re liable. If you are in possession of property and what does that mean?
“You may not be the owner. You may be a squatter, you too have to file a form. You may be living in a house of a friend of family has allowed you, that you have a license to occupy which means that you also have to file.”
“So, everybody has to file, and don’t be fooled when they said pensioners, persons with disabilities would not have to file, that was a lie,” she added.
The Opposition Leader stated that in this case, persons could apply for a deferral in which they grant or not grant and they changed the law, that the deferral will only effect for two years so you would have to continuously file and file again.
She said, “Should you as the present owner or occupier of the property pass away, it doesn’t go away; it continues to accumulate and accrue so, whoever comes into the property after, they are liable to pay that tax.
“So, make no mistake, every single person in possession or ownership of property will have to pay this property tax.”
Persad-Bissessar said that the government sought to push this tax on residential properties, commercial and agricultural properties. However, these were described as the most vulnerable in the country, and yet they have failed to make the same effort for industrial property.
“Is it because the industrial property belongs to their friends and their families? Those would be the most lucrative properties should you want to recover taxes from them but why have you left them out of this net?” Persad-Bissessar asked.
She said the tax would affect many indirectly as everyone would pass on this tax to someone else.
“So, if there is a business or commercial property, do you think they are going to pay that tax on their own? The prices of everything in their business would go up, “ Persad-Bissessar said.
The Opposition Leader added that the tax will be passed on to the tenant.
She said, “So here we are in the midst of a pandemic, when people really seeing trouble, businesses are closed, persons have lost jobs by the thousands. This is when you want to bring this humane, heartless tax on the citizens of this country.”
Persad-Bissessar said, “The time is not now, Prime Minister stop the tax. This tax will redound not to the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, but will have serious repercussions across the length and breadth of our country.”