Apart from the strong objections to the re-introduction of property tax, there are tantalising points emerging on the need for those taxes to be used to pay for local government services. Local government is one of the sectors which is in most frequent contact with the needs of communities, such as maintenance of drains and playing-fields; garbage collection; road repairs and many other such services.
One of the common positions on this tax is one in which there is no real objection to property tax as such, but there are local government and property valuation concerns expressed. Most of those persons seem to have a strong preference for the property tax to be used to fund their local government services, which then leads to an objection to the valuation approach. Those persons seem to hold the view that the extent to which one property is more valuable than another ought not to be the basis for setting the property taxes, if those properties are using broadly similar levels of local services. One can understand that this approach would appeal to those who own the more valuable properties, but one can equally say that those who own more modest properties would be displeased if their property tax bills were the same as their neighbours with larger and more valuable properties. It is complicated. Continue reading “Property Matters – more Property Tax FAQs part three”→
This week I will provide further necessary correctives on the impending re-introduction of the Property Tax, which is not a new tax. It previously existed as House Rates in the five cities and Land & Building Taxes in the other parts of the country.
Self-employed and professionals and sole traders have always under-reported their earnings and never paid the correct taxes. Those people often use property as a useful place to store their untaxed wealth. We have never really dealt with this tradition of tax evasion amongst our successful citizens and I cannot remember anyone being imprisoned or having property auctioned due to taxes owed. Whatever my doubts about the motivation of the American Imperium in pushing its ‘anti-tax haven’ agenda, some things do give cause for a pause. For instance, the Financial Times article of 28 June 2017 – ‘Trinidad & Tobago left as the last blacklisted tax haven‘. Continue reading “Property Matters – more Property Tax FAQs part two”→
the many strong criticisms arising from a short Newsday article which reported my views as to the fairness of this proposed tax.
The proposed Property Tax has three main differences from the old system which ended in 2009 –
Revised Valuations – It will be based on updated valuations. In 2009 $143M was raised, the 2017 estimates were for $503M to be raised – the 2018 estimate is $250M, likely due to the delay in passing the required law and the ongoing litigation which is now at the Appeal Court level;
Database – It will require an open database for proper operation. This open database is the decisive element, which I welcome;
Funds – The old system allocated those monies to local government, but the new system directs the Property Tax revenue to the consolidated fund. In my view that is detrimental to proper local government.
Property owners have had an unprecedented tax holiday, with no property tax paid since 2009. At a minimum, using the lower 2009 revenues, $1.287 Billion more remained with our property-owners.
The High Court issued a ruIing by Justice Frank Seepersad on Friday 19 May 2017 that the Valuation Return Forms (VRFs) which property owners had been required to complete for the implementation of the Property Tax was to be subject to a “….stay of the implementation and/or enforcement…”. That stay is pending the full hearings of the judicial review case brought by former AG, Anand Ramlogan SC, on behalf of former PP Minister, Devant Maharaj. The State has already filed an appeal and that is to be heard at the Appeal Court on Monday 22nd May 2017.
This important national policy is now before the Courts for determination as to the legality of its implementation at this time. To be sure, there are sharp political rivalries at stake here and heavy questions of how do we attain good public administration. Continue reading “Property Tax Setbacks”→
This is my interview on 96.1 FM with Nikki Crosby on Tuesday 2nd May 2017…this was a great session with Tweez…Rodey and Raw Fusion…there were also some engaging ‘phone calls and text messages from the public. Audio courtesy TTRN
Programme Date: 2 May 2017 Programme Length: 00:34:37
This article contains background information on the new Property Tax and answers some Frequently Asked Questions.
Getting the data
In this information age, the government was not able to create an accessible database into which property owners could have directly uploaded the required property details. Why not adopt this more efficient method to gather the information? We can, and must, do better.
These taxes seem to be payable to the Consolidated Fund. It is my view that they ought to be collected by the respective Local Government bodies.
I support the re-instatement of the Property Tax, it is long-overdue and property owners have enjoyed a seven-year holiday since it was last collected in 2009. I have two substantial criticisms which are set out in the sidebar, but overall this is an important and positive move by the government.
There are strong objections and many questions on this new tax with two main sources – people who are genuinely unsure of how the new arrangements will work and political objectors from the Opposition.
These are the national totals of Property Tax paid in the period 1993-2009, compiled from –
House Rates, which is paid in Municipal Corporations, from the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Statutory Boards, Similar Authorities and the THA.
Land & Building Taxes, which is paid in the rest of the country, from the Estimates of Revenue.
This is my interview with Rennie Bishop on 107.7 FM on Sunday 30 April 2017 to discuss the controversial Property Tax and the prospect of CL Financial being returned to its owners. Video courtesy TTRN -Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited.