The onerous nature of the valuation returns

Finance Minister Colm Imbert - SUREASH CHOLAI
Finance Minister Colm Imbert - SUREASH CHOLAI

THE EDITOR: Most people are aware of the recent posting of documents by the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance to householders.

These documents require householders to do extensive mathematical and observational work before they are filled out. It is also accompanied by a direct threat of $5,000 for failure to send in the return by November 30.

One is required to take two photographs of the property (front and side views). It has been a while since I went to get pictures processed. That is money coming out of my pocket, if I am doing a manual return.

For a residential householder, Section 6 of the form has six parts.

Section 6(a) states that “the area of each floor in the building must be measured and provided in square metres.”

Well, look trouble. If mathematics was not your favourite subject in school, “crapaud smoke your pipe.” If one calculates incorrectly, one may end up paying more property tax than one should.

If the room is a rectangle or a square, it should be easy. Is it length by width or length by breadth or length by height?

If the room is L-shaped and maths is not your strength, hire a mathematician to help you do the calculations.

Is it not simpler to just measure the entire building from the outside? However, even that requires mathematical skills.

I feel sorry for the elderly whose rooms may be filled with boxes, suitcases and other paraphernalia.

One wonders whether government ministers or opposition parliamentarians will be getting down on their hands and knees to measure their floorings.

Section 6(b) requires the householder, inter alia, to state the nature of the flooring, and choices include ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, clay ties and terrazzo. If I bought my home with tiles already included and I know nothing about tiles, I have to pay an expert to tell me what kind of tiles I have, in order to fill out the form. Madness.

Section 6(c) requires one to “list any defects in the building including structural defects.” Structural defects are a job for a building expert, not a householder. That is more money to be spent if the information given is to be accurate.

Section 6(f) requires “directions to property from the closest main road.” There are many “geographically challenged” people in TT who cannot give verbal directions to where they live to save their lives, far less to put it in writing.

It seems the Ministry of Finance is trying to short-circuit the process by having owners do the work for it. Perhaps the Finance Minister believes that the 50 per cent minimum, for the property tax implementation, is taking too long to be achieved.

Some people should start making arrangements with their banks, other financial institutions and moneylenders to borrow that $5,000 penalty.


Mt Hope


"The onerous nature of the valuation returns"

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