Property Tax forms can be submitted/collected

Justice Seepersad overruled again: Appeal Court makes new order

By Rickie Ramdass
June 07, 2017 –

THE Court of Appeal has overturned another ruling of Justice Frank Seepersad, this one involving whether the State could continue to accept Property Tax valuation forms from citizens.

This morning, the Appeal Court ruled that Seepersad should not have granted an interim stay on the collection process but that the substantive matter for judicial review is still on.

It will be heard on September 21.

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5 thoughts on “Property Tax forms can be submitted/collected”

  1. Statement by

    The Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC. MP
    Leader of the Opposition of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago &
    Political Leader of the United National Congress –


    “The Orders made by the Court of Appeal that the Govt’s demand for citizens to submit the VRF and supporting documents is purely voluntary and citizens are not under any legal duty to comply with this request. They now have the plain option to simply refuse to accede to this outrageous and unreasonable demand without any fear or threat of legal sanction. This is consistent with what we have been saying repeatedly that there was/is no legal obligation to do so and there was/is no legal punishment for failure so to do.”

    June 7 2017

    We welcome the Orders made by the Court of Appeal directing the Commissioner of Valuations to clarify that the demand by the Government for citizens to submit the Valuation Return Form (“VRF”) and supporting documents is purely voluntary.

    This means that citizens are not under any legal duty to comply with this request. They now have the plain option to simply refuse to accede to this outrageous and unreasonable demand by the government without any fear or threat of legal sanction.

    This is consistent with what we have been saying repeatedly that there was/is no legal obligation to submit the VRF and that there was/is no legal punishment for failure so to do.

    We advise members of the public to think very carefully before sharing any information that is not required by law with the Government. The Government cannot be trusted and the information is liable to be misused to your detriment.

    The Court’s directive that the Commissioner of Valuations publishes a Notice in all three daily newspapers is designed to clarify the deception and trickery of the Government. That deception caused hundreds of innocent citizens to sacrifice and take a day off from work to line up in the hot sun to submit documents because they felt that they had to meet Mr. Imbert’s deadline. They thought that if they did not meet his deadline they could be criminally prosecuted and sanctioned.

    Today, we know that there is in fact no possibility of prosecution or sanction. The Court of Appeal would not have imposed these orders unless it felt that the Government had instilled a sense of confusion and fear in the population and hence the need to mandate the Commissioner to clear the air.

    If any citizen wishes to disclose sensitive information to the Government such as pictures of their properties, building plan, rental agreements, completion certificate, approvals, site plans, telephone numbers, email addresses, land survey plan and building plan, then they do so at their own risk and peril. The Orders made by the Court of Appeal show that the Government cannot be trusted and that the Government was less than honest with the population.

    It is unprecedented for the Court of Appeal to make such an unusual Order directing a public official whose mouth piece has been Mr. Imbert to publish advertisements because citizens were put in the unenviable position where they might have been tricked into complying with an unlawful demand.

    We repeat our demand for the Government to reconsider this disastrous Property Tax because it will cripple and paralyze many families that are already living paycheck to paycheck not to mention the thousands who have lost their jobs under this administration. The resources, time and energy spent on imposing the property tax should be spent on fighting the scourge of violent crime and creating jobs instead. The country is in crisis and the government has got its priorities all wrong. They are serving themselves and not the people and are ignoring the desperate cries of the people for help.

  2. Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar,you have shown a gross lack of states woman ship in posting your comments, i believe in a case like this, your opinion should be a reserved one seeing that as a former prime minister you refused to implement same, when the oil dollars was in full flow. I always wonder, what would have been your position, you being in power and facing monetary shortfalls? in retrospect, your five years leading T&T was a national disaster, and you may never sit on the ruling chair in the foreseeable future. Everything is on the table for the case to be refuted, it may take some time, eventually will be thrown out.I am not a lawyer, but i was taught well at the OWTU, where nationalism comes first, not political party, and a divisive one at that.The populace have a clear insight of your parties position and the reasons. Can you imagine having your party in power, plus the judiciary in your basket?the outcome will be a catastrophic one for the country. Say what you may, we saw blatant corruption in your administration, and if Trinidad was blessed with any meaningful investigative law, you and your entire cabinet would be facing the courts.T&T don’t seemed have a bright political future, i may be wrong, you see,a state without a spiritual purpose uniting all people, is of no value,it is like a beautiful shell devoid of life. Is this the T&T you envisioned?. Hotep.

  3. When Imbert was caught with his pants down he had to retract and say that he was not implementing Acts No 17 and 18 of 2009 but was involved in a voluntary exercise for information gathering on people’s property details and people’s personal business. In fact the Appeal Court said that Imbert had no locus standi in the VRF exercise and that he was upstaging/usurping the role of the Commissioner of Valuations by issuing false and misleading $500.00 threats and even setting deadlines upon deadlines that are surely inconsistent with a voluntary exercise. This was one big hoax visited upon the people of Trinidad and Tobago with Imbert playing Parliament and changing the laws to suit his arrogance. Even the PM accepted that Imbert made a mess of the exercise by substituting himself for the Commissioner of Valuation.
    Imbert must resign for having lost the trust and confidence of his Prime Minister. He was the first to politicise the tax collection matter to the extent that the issue aided by the media has degenerated into a politically partisan matter if not with racist undertones. The Appeal Court applied procedural criteria to adjudicate on the matter and in fact had to lecture and set conditions for the resumption of a ‘voluntary’ exercise in relation to the submission and receipt of the VRF’s. My concern is what does volunteerism have to do with the implementation of our taxes and to what purpose if the validity of the law is being reviewed on 21 September 2017? What will happen if the Commissioner goes beyond the remit established by the Court and Imbert resumes his evil ways in defiance of this time the Appeal Court. I also think that Rowley issued a nonsensical statement about the Executive collecting taxes when we all know that. His deductions from the Appeal Court decision are off-course as usual because the VRF exercise has nothing to do with so-called illegal acquisition of properties. This is no vindication for the Government. It is a indictment of impropriety and complete lack of integrity by those who started the illegal process.

  4. Let the Justice system do its work. It has a system of checks and balances. What we are seeing now is the government winning the property tax battle in court. There is no need to make premature charges and accusations.

    “SOCIAL media comments inferring political bias and questioning a judge’s ability to deliver pages upon pages of judgments in writing in mere hours, have upset Justice Frank Seepersad. Sources close to the judge told Newsday that Justice Seepersad intends to take up with Chief Justice Ivor Archie as well as acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, recent social media comments which he (Seepersad) believes are threats to the general perception of his judicial independence.
    A police source confirmed yesterday that Justice Seepersad recently wrote to Commissioner Williams expressing concern about his personal security and that of his family. The judge, source said, was supposed to have interacted with CJ Archie yesterday on the issue of the online comments.

    Following delivery of judgments on the Property Tax and the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) lawsuits, Facebook was rife with comments, with several suggesting Justice Seepersad picks and chooses anti-government lawsuits to adjudicate on. Over the past two weeks, Justice Seepersad presided over former UNC Senator Devant Maharaj’s challenge of Government’s imposition of the property tax.

    In this case, Justice Seepersad wrote a 28-page judgment. In the JLSC lawsuit, which sought the court’s order to stop the swearing in of two judges, Justice Seepersad delivered a 22-page written judgment. In both cases, Justice Seepersad ruled in favour of the lawsuits. However, his rulings were subsequently overturned on appeal at the Court of Appeal.

    Yesterday, Newsday obtained from the Registry of the Supreme Court, a copy of the Civil Procedure Rules. Under the rubric: Docket System, the Rules explained how cases are assigned to judges. The Rules state under, ‘Individual Assignment System’ that: “The Court shall operate under an individual assignment system to assure continuous and close judicial supervision of every case and the even distribution of cases among judges.

    “Each civil, public law and matrimonial proceedings except as otherwise provided, shall be randomly assigned to a judge. The system shall be administrated by the calendering and case management committee prescribed in the directions in such a manner, that all judges except the chief justice, shall be assigned substantial and equal share and kind of the work of the court.” The rule, a legal source clarified, makes it abundantly clear that judges do not pick and chose cases to determine”.

  5. There is something that people do collectively that is commonly referred to as “the voice of the people”. When this occurs, it is usually an approval or disapproval of something that is general to the public. The voicing of this feeling, especially when it is ubiquitous, is the expression of their feeling towards an issue or situation. This term is used by two professions that want to convey the same meaning (legal & political). The legal profession’s use of the term is the collective (true) voice, while the politician may use it, not for truth but only to color the strength of whatever arguments they want to make.

    The method used by Ramlogan to argue the case of the property tax and the swearing in of the two judges was very political, thus when they used the litigant (Devant Maharaj) as representative of the “of the people” it was actually a false premise. They could not honestly claim that “the people” did not want the tax or for that matter, the people are against the swearing in of the two judges. It would have been a more honest effort if Ramlogan had chosen to fight the case on behalf of the UNC and state their political objectives in being against these two arguments. At least it would have created a better environment for social media to present their views. We should not forget, judge Seepersad made a few assertions namely; (1) the case is worthy of his hearing; (2) the litigant (Devenat Maharaj) had a strong case (3) the case is worthy of being brought to trial. In stating his findings for the arguments put forward by Ramlogan Judge Seepersad is saying that the claimant had a solid case.

    “The people” whom Ramlogan is saying made this claim found Judge Seepersad’s judgement to be very shallow and one that is suspect.
    The suspicion is that he is a UNC sympathizer. He advanced the case, not because the case had merits but because he wanted to register a “win” for Ramlogan. Look at the picture on the papers with Ramlogan nd his battery of assistants. They were gleeful that Seepersad had allowed them “a win”. This is why politicians should be careful when they advance an argument in the name of “the people” based on filmsy evidence. In Ramlogan’s case, one can argue that he may have been given pre assurances of his success. That is why we in the social media are fixated on matters of public importance. We look for the flaws, the evidence, the truths, the untruths, the pros and the cons before making comments. In these two instances, Seepersad was very transparent with his sloppiness and pre-conceived convictions and this is why we are criticizing.

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