House owners are in for a shock when they find out that the new Property Tax will be retroactive to 2016, and not enforceable from 2017.
The Ministry of Finance has signaled to property owners that the Government proposes to collect property tax for the 2016 calendar year as well as for 2017.
The issue of the Government collecting the property tax for 2016 was first made in a newspaper advertisement published on Monday, at the start of the Ministry of Finance’s public education outreach programme this week as promised by Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert.
The advertisement, repeated in a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday, stated:
“The Government has waived the payment of the property tax for the period 2010 to 2015, as such the tax is payable with effect from 2016.”
That comment from the Ministry of Finance is supported by the amendment to the Finance Act 2015, which states:
“Notwithstanding any written law to the contrary, the payment of any tax under this act shall be waived for the period January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2015,” suggesting that the property tax is payable with effect from January 1, 2016.
The Government’s proposal to reintroduce the property tax has drawn a great deal of public comment, much of which has been negative, with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar tearing up a Valuation Return Form and urging citizens not to pay the tax at a public meeting of the United National Congress at the Water Park in Debe on Sunday.
He said then the Government would take steps to amend certain legislative provisions, including the determination of rates and implement the existing Property Tax Act 2009 with a view to having a fair and equitable property tax regime in place by January 1, 2016, using the old levels and old rates as a starting point.
But in the 2017 budget presentation, Imbert said: “Based on legal advice with respect to the constitutionality of the proposal to collect the same quantum of land and building taxes collected in 2009, the Government was unable to collect property taxes in fiscal 2016.”