Thursday 15 November, 2018

Property Tax Bill passed; Divorcees among those who may get relief

The Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2018 was passed in the Senate on Friday.

The Bill was passed with amendments. Twenty-three members including 17 Government senators and six Independent senators voted in favour of the legislation, while seven members comprising six Opposition senators and one Independent senator voted against. There were no abstentions.

In her wind up of the debate on the controversial Bill, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West explained that divorced women, parents of children with special needs and Alzheimer patients are among those who may qualify for relief from the Property Tax.

West’s comment comes after Independent senator Paul Richards asked for consideration to be given to parents of children with special needs and Independent senator Sophia Chote suggested that relief should be given to persons with Alzheimer's and divorced women.

She said the basis for to relief is broad enough to encompass all of these groups.

 “The relief is intended to apply to people who cannot afford to pay the tax, for whatever reason. If you cannot afford to pay the tax because you are recently divorced and you have no more income and you are not receiving your maintenance payments from your former spouse, then that is the basis on which you can apply for relief. If you are the parent of a special needs person and the cost of medical, educational and other support is putting you in a position where you cannot afford the tax, again that is a basis for relief,” West said.

The Minister maintained that squatters will have to pay the tax.

West defended government’s position on the issue as she responded to concerns raised by Opposition senator Saddam Hosein about the legitimising of squatting and Opposition senator Taharqa Obika who said taxing squatting communities is immoral and unethical.

“The fact that you are carrying out an illegal activity does not mean that you ought not to pay a tax,” the Minister told senators.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert assured citizens that there is no plan for retroactive application of the Property Tax for the year 2016.

He said the waiver will be extended.

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