Property Tax: Corrective Action Needed

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By Dr Neil Gosine

DOES the government really have any idea what they are doing in the valuation of citizens’ properties? The government laid another Property Tax Amendment Bill 2024 in the parliament on Friday. This was to reduce the tax by 33% from 3% to 2% of the property annual rental value.

This was to deal with the mountain of complaints they have received from citizens that the property annual rental values were exorbitant and way out of whack of what they can in reality receive. This affects every single citizen and it seems that the valuation of their properties are being done by desk jockeys that have no idea of the cost of rental properties in Trinidad and Tobago. They are providing unrealistic estimates and they are bogus.

Questions swirling about how they came up with these high values and what benefits citizens will receive by paying these taxes. We all received “Notice of Valuation” letters that started to come from January 1, 2024 but many of us were wondering how they came up with that high valuation. A lot of people have not received the official correspondence yet but this whole process seems haphazard and unplanned to say the least. We are seeing a huge influx of complaints on social media showing the ARVs high values and urging everyone to complain and not accept it. Many complained about working their whole lives to afford a decent house in upscale neighbourhoods and this is what they get for working hard. Unfair and unjust treatment from the government penalising them further their ability to afford a nice home. 

Is this 33% even fair after they have already valued the annual rental too high so a decrease in a wrong value still means citizens are being penalised for their own homes. Two percent is not enough reductions from 3% since the annual rental values of their properties are way overvalued. Citizens should use their fingers and stain it red in the next general elections and send a strong message as the electorate to the PM Dr Keith Rowley’s government in his implementation of this harsh and oppressive property tax. Show him the people has the power.

The opposition has come out hard against this property tax and we don’t keep falling into the trap of the “yard fowl syndrome”. Every so often, a few handfuls of corn are thrown at us. Although, It is never enough to fill us but it guarantees your loyalty to the PNM. Many people are still facing serious financial constraints from hyperinflation or from loss of their jobs and even from the aftershocks of Covid. Why must we face losing our homes, our most precious asset after working so hard to save and buy homes? Finally, if you do not pay the property tax that was touted by the government after five years, the state will have the right to sell your property to recover the tax. Your largest investment – your home is now under attack by the state!

Only corrective action by this government can make us believe that they have the capability to handle state affairs properly but this one that affects our homes has really hit us where it hurts. Let us not accept this lying down! Let us rise to the occasion and fight this until it is properly done in a fair and equitable manner.

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