Property owners can give a sigh of relief as the Finance Minister Colm Imbert has assured that the property tax will not be retroactive.
He made the comment in the Senate on Friday, while piloting the Valuation of Land Amendment bill.
Imbert was responding to Independent Senator Anthony Vieira, who cited anxiety on the part of some people about “back taxes,” asked, “Will the tax be retroactive or will it be forward looking?”
Imbert said, “You will see me come to the Parliament later on in the year. Again, I don’t want to complicate things; and all of the taxes up to 2023 would be waived because you can’t impose a tax without a Valuation roll. I’m very familiar with judicial review – these days, I get one every other day…
“But we will not be imposing taxes in a situation where we have not yet created a roll. So, we’re creating the rolls in ‘23 so the taxes will be imposed for ‘23 going forward and I’ll bring legislation to make that crystal clear … along with some other minor tweaking we’re doing.”
He said property tax is only applicable to land in certain categories – residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural. Tax from residential properties will be collected and retained by regional corporations for their use in Local Government reform.
Imbert cited the response from both PNM and UNC corporations of not having money to do various things.
He added, “We’re looking at ways of how we can ring fence these taxes so that they will go to the purpose intended – garbage collection, local infrastructure et cetera – and not be wasted and squandered on other things.”
He said Government was also looking at a form of reporting by the councils to the population and the Parliament. He said there was no point in corporations collecting $30m-$40m annually of residential property tax and that money isn’t used for productive purposes.
Imbert estimates that 50 per cent of all residential properties in T&T will pay property tax of “somewhere between” $540 annually and $1,080 annually.
The bill was passed in the House of Representatives recently and passed in the Senate last night.
He said the middle class may pay between $1,800 and $2,700 annually.
Imbert said if someone was unable to pay the tax due to hardship if they are on old age pension, public assistance/disability grants or have minimal income, they could apply to the Inland Revenue Board for deferral of the tax.