A security guard speaks to members of the public outside the Ministry of Finance’s Inland Revenue Division in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

On the eve of the deadline for submission of Property Tax forms yesterday, property owners were given a reprieve after the deadline was extended to January 31, 2022.

The announcement was made through a public notice issued by the Valuation Division yesterday afternoon. The deadline was supposed to have been today, but there had been calls in some quarters for the deadline to be extended.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning confirmed the extension was granted.

Last Wednesday in Parliament, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in response to Opposition MP David Lee’s query on a possible extension of the deadline, said any extension would have to take place on or before November 30, “if it takes place at all.”

Imbert said then that the total number of returns for residential properties at that time was 165,000. He explained that under the law, 200,000 returns were needed before the process of implementation of Property Tax could start.

Homeowners who fail to meet the deadline are guilty of a criminal offence and are liable to a $5,000 fine.

The public notice stated, “The Commissioner of Valuations wishes to advise every person in possession of residential land, commercial land, agriculture land, or a combination of any of the above (mixed use) with or without buildings in Trinidad and Tobago for which a Return is required containing the particulars required by the Commissioner of Valuations that the deadline has been extended from November 30, 2021, to January 31, 2022.”

In an immediate reaction to the extension, Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce president Kiran Singh said the extension is much needed as everyone tries to survive these perilous times given the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “The Government must be commended for extending the deadline for the submission of Property Tax forms. It shows an appreciation for the concerns of citizens.”

He added that the chamber sympathises with members of society who are not in a position to face this additional expense at this critical time in a depressed economy.

“With the increasing cost of living and creeping food inflation, the society needs some breathing room.”

Singh said the business community could now focus on the Christmas shopping season and aim to partially recover the tremendous financial losses suffered over the pandemic period. Meanwhile, Guardian Media yesterday received complaints from members of the public that they were having issues logging on to the Property Tax website and it appeared to have crashed at one point.

However, when contacted the Finance Ministry’s Corporate Communication Department said they had received no reports and the website appeared to be functioning properly.