LAVENTILLE West MP Fitzgerald Hinds said despite Opposition “scaremongering” people want to pay property tax and more than 150,000 have filed returns. “Property owners know in their hearts they are willing (to pay).”
He was contributing to debate on amendments to property tax and valuation of land legislation in Parliament yesterday.
He said more than 150,000 people had already submitted returns for tax notwithstanding the obstructionist behaviour of the Opposition.
Hinds said the Opposition mouthpieces have said that 100 per cent of properties must be valued by the Commissioner of Valuations which was impossible because every day new properties were being built and this is why the Government has proposed 50 per cent of properties.
He lamented that since 2010 Government has lost more than $1 billion in revenue from property tax because of the last administration’s opposition.
“Left up to them we will have none.”
He said that with national revenues down and public debt up and corruption rampant over the last five years Government needs revenues to do the people’s work.
On concerns of the power of the finance minister to suspend valuation tribunal members Hinds said it would be subject to natural justice and judicial review. “The (Opposition) scaremongering is designed to create smokescreens and doubts in citizens.” He responded to questions by Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan on how the taxes would be spent and responded that it would go into the consolidated fund.
He stressed that the land and building taxes regime was problematic, rates varies across the country and there was no valuation on the land but it was based on size. He said that taxes are paid on property everywhere in the world and only because of the Opposition’s “axe the tax” campaign and populist approach it was not done.
Hinds said $81 a month on a property with a rental value of $36,000 a year or $2.60 cents a day was one of the least in the hemisphere. Hinds said he views property tax as not only a tax raising measure but also something to make TT better.