Saturday 5 December, 2020

Property tax education campaign to begin tomorrow

To ensure the smooth implementation of the property tax, Government will embark on an extensive communications campaign as a means of addressing the public’s questions and concerns over the tax.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert at today’s Post Cabinet media briefing indicated that he has already instructed his officers to conduct this campaign from tomorrow.

Noting that there are several steps involved in the implementation of the tax, the Minister said the completion and submission of valuation forms by homeowners so that an assessment can be made is only the first phase of the implementation of the tax.

“The purpose of the forms is to assist the Evaluation Department to put a value on properties which is then going to be inserted on a notice, which is then sent to property owners telling them what the assessed rental value of their properties is and informing them of the requirement then to pay the property tax – which would be in this case, in the first instance – three percent of the assessed rental value.”

He also clarified the procedure as allowed under the Valuation of Land Act that gives an officer the authority to enter citizens’ properties.

Section 15 of the Act states that the consent of owners must be sought and notification must be given 48 hours prior to the intended visit.

Imbert acknowledged that while the payment of additional taxes at this time - given the economic climate - all citizens have to do their part to contribute.

He stressed however that there is much to be done before the actual implementation of the property tax.

“The impression that the Opposition is giving is that this is happening now. It is not. All that is happening now is asking land owners, property owners, to comply with the Valuation of Land Act which is to submit a return.

Let us know where your property is and who the owner is and how many rooms it has and so on. We are far away from a situation where the Commissioner of Valuations would want to start entering properties and inspecting properties.”

Assessments will be done following the submission of valuations.

Notices have not yet been sent to owners of commercial, agricultural and industrial properties as the valuation exercises has to be done in phases – beginning with residential owners.

Addressing concerns of rent hikes by landlords, Imbert said while the State cannot get involved in rent pricing, the implementation of the property tax may actually do the reverse and protect renters from victimisation.

“One of the consequences of this process that you may not have thought of is that the landlord now has to declare what the rent is, so that if the landlord declares a rent that is not consistent with the actual rent you are paying there will be a problem.

So you may actually find some rents might go down.”

The process allows for renters to enter the system and certify what they pay.

The Minister said the Property Tax Act allows for deferrals for the poor and that he was examining whether this deferral could be changed to a complete waiver of the charge.



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