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‘People want to pay tax’

CLINT CHAN TACK Friday, May 19 2017

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert yesterday declared that contrary to attempts by the Opposition to dissuade them, property owners want to pay property tax.

He made this point at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

He also confirmed that Cabinet approved a recommendation from his ministry to extend the deadline for submission of valuation forms from May 22 to June 5.

Imbert said the decision to extend the deadline had nothing to do with two pre-action protocol letters sent to his ministry last week.

Noting many citizens are “famous for last minute action”, he disclosed that an estimated 150,000 valuation forms have been submitted to the Valuation Division’s offices, this week and last week.

The minister said while the Opposition has been urging people to tear up the form, “what we are seeing is the reverse.” Describing the response to the request to submit valuation form as, “overwhelming”, Imbert declared, “It is obvious people want to get involved in this process of having their property valued, assessed and they want to pay the tax.” In order to avoid confusion, Imbert said additional centres will be opened in communities across TT and staffed for the receipt of forms.

Asked if the pre-action protocol letters influenced the decision to extend the deadline, Imbert replied, “In no way whatsoever. This had nothing to do with that.” He declined to discuss the contents of those letters or the ministry’s response to them. Saying the deadline to one of the letters was today, Imbert was certain that Opposition MPs will publish the response from the Government’s lawyers once they receive it.

Reiterating there are approximately 250,000 registered residential properties, Imbert said he is one of these property owners adding he has an assessment number and has been paying land and building taxes.

While 75 percent of residential properties will not require field visits because their information is in the system, Imbert said the assessment of commercial and industrial properties will require field visits. He disclosed the Valuation Division has begun its outreach programme to commercial and industrial property owners, starting today with owners in Point Lisas. Imbert said the forms these people will have to submit will be similar to the ones which residential property owners have been submitting.

He also explained that the determination of the tax on vacant residential lands begins with a determination of the market value of the land.

Imbert said TT nationals living overseas, who own residential properties here, can get someone in TT to complete the forms for them.

Reiterating that what was happening now was “an information gathering phase” and this was, “a long way away from the actual payment of the tax,” Imbert was confident that Government will be able to collect property taxes for this fiscal year by September 30.



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