Property Tax: They Go Kill We

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By Dr Neil Gosine

Effective January 1, 2024, the deadly property tax takes effect, says the Finance Minister Colm Imbert. This is less than a month’s time. 

The dreaded property tax is on its way! The law doesn’t exist for the regional corporations to collect the taxes yet, but the minister was adamant that people who have not yet received their valuation notices for residential properties will very soon be delivered through TTPost.

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Minister Imbert is insisting his government wants “certainty” that this will be implemented. No care or consideration on how people are suffering with all the mounting expenses they have for 2024. Higher rates on water, higher rates on electricity and higher food prices across the board but minimal wages increases. “This go Kill We!”

Minister Imbert forcibly announced that when he delivered the 2024 Budget in October of this year he was going to ensure the collection of property taxes in the financial year of 2024.

So property tax will be applicable from January 1, 2024. He also stressed that the “last possible date” which property tax can be paid every year is by September 30th. Saying that there is something now called “lacuna” in the law so this gives a mechanism by which municipal corporations can notify the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) for non-payments, the BIR can now go after you, each and everyone of you, to collect the taxes. 

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The base of collecting property taxes is the annual rental values (ARV) of the properties but what he’s not taking into consideration is that property rental is very low right now in Trinidad and Tobago and that no one can get the prices his Government is using to calculate these property rental prices. People have to lower rents to half or even quarter of the values they were getting pre Covid just to get their properties rented. Just to get something to keep going. He needs to talk to some real estate agents to figure out what is really going on in the market and how depressed it is. 

The calculations on the property taxes using the AVR discounted by the 10% and the multiplication by 3% of the discounted annual rental value is still too high in my opinion, and will give residential homeowners great difficulty in affording the taxes.  However, jump high or jump low the Government doesn’t want to listen to the people. 

Let’s all write back and question the way they did their calculations to come up with the inflated rental prices. Let’s question the Ministry of Finance Valuation Division and ask them to provide proof of all the measurements and photographs of our properties which they used to come up with those rental figures.

What mathematics did they use in arriving at the Annual Rental Value? Remember it’s very hard to rent your property especially properties that are not well maintained at the prices they are saying. Without upgraded kitchens, without stainless steel appliances, upgraded quartz or granite countertops, and beautifully designed toilets, renters get next to nothing for rental properties.

Ask the Ministry of Finance Valuation Division to reply to you in writing on your questions and concerns and then let’s see how long they take to respond in order for us to ascertain the validity of their calculations so that we can pay fair taxes to the state. These property taxes “go kill we!”

Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.

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