Unveiling The Property Tax Debacle

By Stephen Kangal
May 01, 2010

Karen TesheiraAfter the huff and puff of the ill-advised, arrogant and disrespectful steam-rolling of the Property Tax Bills at an undue frenetic pace through Parliament December last that caused discomfort even to HE The President, Finance Minister Karen Tesheira continues to bluff and attempt to hoodwink property owners.

She has a blind and excessive obsession with the reduction of the rate of tax from 7% to 3% as an expression of her puerile generousity although she knows that the actual tax will be sometimes 60 times greater than the previous 7% rate of tax. She deliberately confuses equality with equity.

The burgesses of San Fernando are being duped into believing that their property taxes (PT) will be halved. Errol Fabien has been recruited to conduct unconvincing TV commercials sitting on a map and demonstrating misleading gymnastics on location/type criteria for tax determination. His imputations that the PT is less than his cable and gas bills are dishonest because I can terminate my cable and reduce my gas bills. I cannot do that to the unilaterally imposed PT even though I get precious nothing in return.

Minister Tesheira is unable to complete all the time-consuming complexities and detailed valuation of properties necessary for delivering an accurate and lawful property tax bill by March 31st. She does not have the enormous qualified valuation staff. There are still 250,000 properties outside of the tax net. This is the only reason why the payment deadline has been extended to 31st December. But she can only deliver half of the bills this year for properties that are listed. Is this the equity that she boasted about ad infinitum?

The BIR cannot issue inaccurate estimated Fabien-style bills because this will collapse the system with thousands of appeals. Additionally once an assessment is mutually agreed it will be valid for five years and cannot be amended or increased.

There are serious errors in the Property Tax Act No.18 of 2009. I understand that the entire regime relating to deferral of tax has to be re-submitted to Parliament for amendments. Imagine having to amend an Act even before it was implemented. Such is the degree of ineptitude and arrogance that the Manning regime parades with pride.

The Property Tax Act may not be implemented this year. Consultant Mervyn Thompson is in conflict with the BIR. However both the Land and Building Tax Act and Section V of the Municipal Corporations have been foolishly repealed leaving us with no PT to pay this year. This is governance T&T -style.

The UNC had pledged to roll back the tax because collecting property taxes is a tedious, expensive and time-consuming activity when income and consumption taxes are far easier to administer and collect.

To date property owners have not received Schedule II from the BIR which is a return that has to be submitted by 1 April 2010 and upon which an accurate tax assessment may be computed.

Minister Tesheira opened a Pandora’s Box the ramifications of which have seriously undermined her credibility. Yet she parades her incompetence with pea-cock strides although the law-making process of the property tax has collapsed much to her embarrassment.

Yet she is tackling the PSA on the TTRA. That has also collapsed. Everything is collapsing including the Manning Administration because of lies, lies and more lies.

5 Responses to “Unveiling The Property Tax Debacle”


  • My take on the Property tax issue is that there is a large part of the population that is not paying PT and these are the ones that should be targeted if, as they claim, they wish to make it fair and equitable. Then how can it be fair to increase PT on Property on the basis of a rental value when the Property is Owner-Occupied? The owner’s of houses would have had to pay interest on loans ,VAT on materials for construction and general maintenance and in the wake of a boom when the price of property escalated, over which we had no control, we are now expected to pay tax on the basis of that increase even though we are now in recession and prices of property have dropped.

  • I think Property Tax increase is long overdue.

    • Betty
      Do you agree to a 3,000%-6,000% increase in your property tax without consultations? Do you know to date what is your property tax in accordance with the legislation? Why did the PNM Governments not increase the tax in 1969. 1978 and 2000? What about our oil and gas?Did the PNM include the property tax in its manifesto in 2007? Were you able to read the draft bills before it was passed in Parliament? Were you treated with dignity and respect when the Government passed the legislation?
      Think of these things please.

  • One does not have to go to the London School of Economics, or acquire a Phd from UWI ,to appreciate certain basic truisms, when it comes to sharing the economic burdens of a country- whether in the more advanced Global North,or emerging like ours in the Global South.Citizens cannot spend monies that they cannot earn ,either due to non existant,disappearing jobs, or paltry wages.
    In like manner,necessary governmental taxes of any nature-property or income-cannot be paid by citizens in any country from Norway to Haiti, without viable jobs,respectable income,and property ownership.
    As aconsequenc,the solution is simple Mr.K, encourage land distribution,as well as other forms of property ownership ,as a matter of policy. Simultaneously, develop an entrepuneal spirit in all our people,via education, and reasonable aid, and business loans incentives, where necessary.
    The results from such deliberate ,and progressive policies would ensure that the financial burdens that you are alluding to would be curbed, as the majority of our citizens get into the mix toward the full,and sustainable development of our ‘entire country.’ Hopefully you’ll note my emphasis.
    It is not only in our Twin Republic,but globally,that folks -especially those in the know-needs to begin to develop a keen interest in the other- be they of divergent class,race,gender,or region-as the returns can be tremendous for all concern.
    For all the pompous , and empty media grabbing prattle about ‘c:ange Obama style,’ in. My country,if the Kamla,Dookeran,Dagga,Warner,Mc Loed alliance is geared only to replace the sometimes clueless,arrogant PNM,with business as usual tribal village jig and dance for the next four years if successful,such would be a gave injustice to our nation and desperate people.
    Just might be time for a few of us in the know to cease wasting. Our energies on hopeless , hard core T&T politics, and instead create grass roots Civil Societies. Movements that can ensure the ideals of our country’s anthem and motto become a reality.
    Each and every creed and race,finds and equal place, as we aspire, and achieve together,yes?
    I wish you well

  • It is all well and good to speak of the development of the entruprenurial spirit and the encouragement of land distribution etc., but that is the future, in the present a 3000% increase in property taxes is draconian to say the least, it is the political meanderings of a government which is not only out of touch with the reality of the sufferage of it’s average citizen but it has also proceeded to attempt to suck the life blood of the sufferer, that is nothing short of contempt for the very masses whom you claim to serve. To speak of sharing the economic burden is fine, but while the grass is growing the horse is starving, I will reiterate my position on this piece of legislation, where are the services of water, electricity, proper drainage, proper access roads that need to be adressed and put in place before we start speaking of a 3000% increase in property taxes.
    Peace

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