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Government kickstarts property tax collection
The government has announced that the process for the reintroduction of the property tax regime has begun.
A release issued by the Ministry of Finance yesterday stated that “within the next week” all residential property owners could expect to receive Valuation Return Forms (VRF’s) in the mail.
Additionally, a full-page advertisement by the ministry sought to highlight the “facts to note about property tax.”
The release said: “In this regard, all property owners are required to complete a Valuation Return Form, in accordance with the Valuation of Land Act, Chapter 58:03 and return same, with supporting documents to the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance for the calculation of the property’s Annual Rental Value.”
Some of the supporting documents to accompany the completed VRF include deed/certificate of title, site plan, building plan, Town and Country Planning Approval and even various utility bills.
The VRF also requires that the location of the premises be identified, the name of owner (s), for what purpose the property is being used (rented, leased or owner-occupied), and whether any additions or alterations were made to the property since the date of the last filed return.
The ministry added that property owners have until May 22 to submit completed VRF’s to any of the eight locations of the Valuation Division across the country.
According to the ministry, upon the submission of completed VRF’s by property owners, field visits may be conducted to substantiate the information on the completed forms.
“Upon receipt of the completed VRF, the Commissioner of Valuation may notify property owners of field visits to assess and verify the information submitted on the forms. Based on the foregoing, after the process of submission by property owners of the Valuation Return Forms is completed, any field visits that are deemed to be necessary will be conducted,” the release said.
The ministry said that an “assessment notice” from the Board of Inland Revenue would then be sent out to property owners indicating the respective tax liability and deadline for payment by the property owner.
The property owner may lodge an objection in writing against the valuation with the office of the Commissioner of Valuations within 30 days of service of the assessment notice, according to the Ministry of Finance website.
Property owners may also apply for a deferral of the payment of the assessed tax on the grounds of impoverishment and inability to improve their financial position significantly by reason of age, impaired health or other special circumstances on the grounds that payment of the tax would cause undue hardship to the owner.
Commenting on the reintroduction of the tax, Wade George, regional service line leader, tax services at Ernst and Young said: “This announcement was expected. The reintroduction of the tax has been discussed in many previous budget presentations and given the financial state of affairs in the country, the government is seeking to raise revenue to meet its fiscal requirements.”
George added that the reintroduction of the property tax still left many areas open for questioning.
He said: “One of the biggest sources of contention will be valuation and whether the process is perceived to be equal and fair. A lot of information is still needed.”
The property tax is calculated based on the Annual Rental Value of the specific property under consideration.
Five classifications of property have been determined as taxable - agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial with building and industrial without building - with the rates of tax levied at 1 per cent, 3 per cent, 5 per cent, 6 per cent and 3 per cent of the Annual Rental Value of the property respectively.