Chartered accountant Anthony Pierre yesterday commended Finance Minister Colm Imbert for finally taking the bull by its horns to implement the long-awaited property tax.
“I think it’s time the Government implement the property tax. It’s a tax levied against most countries in the world. It’s a very efficient way of collecting taxes,” Pierre said.
In presenting the 2021 budget, Imbert said a newly instituted tax system will be further consolidated with the commencement of the property tax regime in the financial year 2021.
He said the Property Tax Act was assented to on December 31, 2009, while amendments were made to the Valuation of Land Act.
These two pieces of legislation, Imbert said are intended to provide a comprehensive tax regime “under management of single assessment agency and a single collection agency to replace the former system of the land and building taxes and house rates which produced inconsistent and inequitable consequences and was not being administered efficiently or effectively.”
Despite facing numerous challenges, Imbert said to expedite the process “a commissioner of valuation will in the near future be making mandatory requests to property owners under Section 29 of the Valuation of Land Act for the provision of information in an appropriate format.”
The objective, he said is to collect property tax next year beginning with residential properties.
“We continue to assure property owners that the rate of this tax will be both fair and reasonable and will not present an onerous burden on them.”
Taxation of commercial, industrial and agricultural properties will follow in that order.
Imbert said in keeping with the Government’s digitalisation thrust and social distancing protocols, an online option is also being developed for the submission of information by property owners which would be operationalised shortly.
Imbert had previously indicated that citizens earning less than $3,500 per month as well as vulnerable persons such as pensioners and single mothers would be eligible for a waiver of property tax fees.
Other structures on one’s property will also account towards the overall valuation.
Pierre believes the tax is fair.
As the managing partner of the local arm of Moore T&T- a global accounting network, Pierre said our tax rates are reasonable compared to other countries.
“With rental values falling at the moment because of COVID-19 and the overall global economic climate. I think the amounts of the tax will be even lower…although the rates may not have been adjusted…the actual tax figure may be lower.”
Unable to say how much revenue the Government can generate from property tax, Pierre said we have been running deficit budgets for years.
“We have to start moving towards a balanced budget. I think it is a move in the right direction in terms of achieving that overall macro-economic objective.”
Pierre said he expects the Opposition to object to the tax, stating that this was not the time for “playing politics” but to kickstart the economy.
“As Trinidadians we tend not to be law- abiding. If the law of the land is that you have to pay property tax, then we should comply.”
He said he expects Imbert to say more in the coming weeks about the tax collection.
By September 2021, Pierre said the tax should be rolled out.