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Property tax by another name?

Friday, September 13, 2013

An interesting announcement in the 2013-2014 budget presentation was the feature regarding the property tax. This is significant since the Congress of the People (COP), an integral member of the People’s Partnership Government, used this feature as their trump card during their protestations against the then government, led by Prime Minister Patrick Manning.



Its mantra won the hearts of many undecided voters the following elections. It was definitely a significant aspect of their rally call which caused them to win several seats, which normally would have gone PNM. There seems to be a deviation from the position of the PP Government if we are to examine the following statements made by the Finance Minister and the Prime Minster. The following are the relevant excerpts which seem to suggest that one is at variance with the other:


Land and Building Tax 


“Mr Speaker, a land and building tax regime is a key pillar in all modern tax systems. Recurrent land and building taxes meet all the conditions of a good and fair tax. The backbone of a successful land and building tax is the proper valuation of properties within a transparent framework. This will require the property rolls being brought up-to-date. I propose to phase in these taxes over the period 2014 to 2017, during which time the properties wil be valued and consultations will be held with all stakeholders. 


In Phase 1 and effective immediately, we shall commence valuations of all industrial land, including plant and machinery, whether housed or unhoused, with a view to implement this tax by July 1, 2014. In Phase 2, we will impose a tax on commercial properties and in Phase 3, we will impose a tax on agricultural lands and on residential properties with a deductible allowance to provide relief to certain agricultural land owners and low-income homeowners." —Minister of Finance and the Economy, Larry Howai, delivering the 2013-2014 budget.


Following the presentation of the budget by Howai, the Prime Minister had this to say at a post-budget conference. “I want to make it very clear is that my Government will not introduce any property tax. There will be no property tax. What we are looking at, from what Minister Howai spoke about today, is what is known as an industrial tax.



In fact, I have given instructions for a bill to be drafted that will clearly take the land and building taxes as it was prior to 2010, before the law that was passed by the PNM for the property tax. I want to ease any of those who may be fearful that there is going to be a property tax, there will be no property tax.” —Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar


Robert Ramsamooj
Jacks Tyre Traders Ltd
Lange Park, Chaguanas


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