In Monday’s budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that all private motor cars will now attract customs duty, motor vehicle tax, VAT with the lowest rates of duty and tax being imposed on hybrid cars, electric cars, CNG cars, and small engine cars below 1,500cc, to encourage their use.
The new measure comes into effect from October 20.
However, public officials, including current parliamentarians, members of the judiciary and certain public servants will be allowed to enjoy their tax breaks.
Documents leaked on Tuesday showed that a sitting Member of Parliament was granted concessions of close to $300,000 on the purchase of a Ford Mustang Coupe with a market price value of $599,893 back in 2017.
In 2020, another sitting MP was granted a tax break of $575,528 on the puchase of a Porsche Cayenne which was valued at $1.2 million.
During the TTMA’s post-budget forum on Tuesday, Imbert revealed that the tax breaks enjoyed by certain members of society will continue as these exemptions have been in place for the last 20 years.
“There are a number of travelling officers in the public service that get exemptions from motor vehicle tax duty, VAT, etcetera…Thousands of travelling officers in the public service…these exemptions have been in place for the last 20 years. There’s no connection between the two,” Imbert said.
Also in the budget presentation on Monday, Imbert said that TT$2.5 billion a year is spent on importing cars of which two-thirds represents the purchase of private cars.
As a result, the removal of all tax concessions on private cars was implemented to prevent the outflow of foreign exchange from the country.
Current UNC activist Devant Maharaj has spoken out against the removal of tax concessions for persons who wish to purchase private cars.
Maharaj said, “It’s unfortunate while they were able to use their tax breaks to buy luxury vehicles, they’ve now preventing people to even enjoy a vehicle or get tax breaks as before. Maybe they can give up their luxury vehicles to show solidarity with the people who now can’t get a vehicle.”