Property Tax Down to 2% as Issues Mar Old System

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By Prior Beharry

A number of issues with the property tax has caused the government to withdraw it in its current form.

In the Lower House on Friday, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said the government has introduced a bill to amend the Property Tax Act which will be debated on Monday.

Among the amendments would be the reduction of the Residential Property Tax from 3% to 2% and the increase in the period of objections from 30 days to six months.

Imbert said the Property Tax was not suspended despite reports in the media and notices at Board of Inland offices across the country on Thursday.

He said those notices were not authoritised.

Imbert said, “With regard to the notices that were posted on the doors of some Regional  Revenue Collection Offices yesterday stating that property tax payments had  been suspended until further notice, these notices were not authorised and  should not have been put up, especially in view of the fact that the Property  Tax Amendment Act 2024 is not yet law.  

“My investigations have revealed that some of the staff in the Board and  Inland Revenue, after becoming aware of the provisions in the amendment bill took it upon themselves to do this, with apparent good intentions, but  without authorisation, and without my knowledge or consent. This is not the  way that a Cabinet decision should be communicated to the public,  especially on a matter as sensitive as this.”

He said he was disappointed.

Imbert said, “I am disappointed that this procedural lapse occurred, and it is my hope and expectation that the public servants involved will learn from this mistake.  

However, on behalf of the Government, I wish to express my deep regret to all those who were inconvenienced.”

Imbert said the government had taken issue with the various issues and decided to take appropriate action to alleviate the concerns.

Some of the issues Imbert identified were:

  • At the middle to upper levels, the Annual Rental Values identified in Valuation Notices were not consistent with the expectations of property owners or with the current property rental market;
  • Some residential land owners and occupiers in close proximity of each other have complained about illogical discrepancies in Annual Rental Values;
  • The obscure manner through which some Annual Rental Values have been determined; and
  • Duplication in Valuation notices to residential land owners.

Imbert said people who paid their property taxes will be refunded.

He said, “Additionally, I have been advised by the BIR that a total of 801 payments  of property tax had been made up until Wednesday March 13, 2024, for a  total of $1,030,864.55 – an average of $1,297 in annual property tax. 

“All of  these taxpayers will be issued with new tax notices at the new rate of 2%  and refunded, and I have asked the BIR to do so promptly.”

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