THE EDITOR: Government is touting the idea that the country's infrastructure can only be maintained through the property tax.
Formerly known as the Land & Building Tax Act, it was given up in 2010 after much lobbying, resulting in a tax concession up until today.
Now it's been renamed the Property Tax Act, Government has proposed several amendments to the original tax legislation. New calculations proposed are:
Residential – three per cent of the annual taxable value
Vacant residential land – 3.5 per cent of capital value less ten per cent
Commercial – 5 per cent of the annual taxable value
Vacant commercial land – five per cent of capital value less ten per cent
Industrial with buildings – six per cent of the annual taxable value
Industrial without buildings – three per cent of the annual taxable value
Agricultural – one per cent of the annual taxable value.
Government has stated that estimated revenue from property tax is $500 million. But all citizens are dreading the implementation of this tax because now is not the time for taxes on an already overburdened population.
In reality, we pay taxes for everything we purchase, including stamp duty, when purchasing property. Many service companies charge 12.5 per cent VAT, even in the hospitality sector. On car parts and accessories, we are charged 30 per cent duty and then 12.5 per cent VAT.
Instead of imposing another tax at this time, Government should carefully assess areas where there is overspending.
One area is the exorbitant rent paid for by the state for properties owned by friends, families and financiers. The truth is, the rental market is soft because of the downturn in that market, and Government should reassess lease arrangements.
I verily believe if mismanagement and acute overspending are curtailed there would be no need to force a new tax on the population.
The problem is not a lack of money, but rather a lack of proper management and a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth, especially to the poor.
Government is trying to sell this tax as being one where it brings a "bag of goodies" to local government. Poppycock!
We know we must pay property tax, but now is not the time for it.
Without local government reform, which has been in the making under this PNM regime for the past eight years, all we can look forward to is more mismanagement.
With a lack of proper checks and balances, there is no guarantee this $500 million in new revenue from the property tax will be used to genuinely improve goods and services in local government.
While there are many good reasons for holding its hand on this tax, it is clear Government is money-hungry and will proceed as planned probably right after local government elections.
If that be the case, then the population would have to ask itself many tough questions, the answers to which can be got in the general election.
We keep getting doubles from this Government with no channa and only pepper!
Port of Spain