FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said on Wednesday his ministry has received 165,000 completed valuation forms for residential properties, out of the 200,000 needed to reach the 50 per cent threshold required by law in order to trigger collection under the Property Tax Act.
He was answering an urgent question in the House of Representatives posed by opposition chief whip David Lee in the name of Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram, as to whether Imbert would heed calls by voices in the business community to extend the deadline for submission of the property tax valuation form. The current deadline is November 30.
Imbert said the current exercise was being done by the Valuation Division.
"The information I have from the Valuation Division is that on the previous occasion approximately 127,000 returns were submitted for residential properties," he said referring to an effort begun in 2016 but halted in 2018 after a legal challenge.
"So far on this occasion, approximately a further 55,000 forms have been submitted." Of the 55,000, some 7,000 forms were resubmissions, while 37,500 were new, he added.
"So the total number of returns for residential property up to this time is 165,000. According to the law, we have to get to 200,000 before the process of implementation of property tax can commence. As a consequence the Valuation Division is carefully monitoring the situation and an appropriate decision (presumably referring to any time extension) will be taken at an appropriate time."
Lee, in a supplemental question, asked what Imbert meant by "an appropriate time" in terms of a fast-approaching deadline of November 30.
Imbert replied, "The extension would have to take place on or before November 30, if it takes place at all."
In September,a paid press advert by the Valuation Division said anyone in possession of "residential land, commercial land, agricultural land or a combination" must submit details in a form by November 30, on pain of a $5,000 penalty under the Valuation of Land Act (section 32).
The Property Tax Act (section 3) says the annual rental value on which property tax is calculated will be determined by the Commissioner of Valuations under the Valuation of Land Act.
Recently, property owners have been receiving the forms delivered to their premises.