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willanr

PROPERTY TAX

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As information starts to surface as to what the requirements are for homeowners to submit information to the Valuation Department as it relates to Property Tax many are now expressing deep concerns as to the impact  this TAX will have on their households. Many of the middle income homeowners are paying mortgages and many irrespective of the income group that they fall into are struggling to make ends meet. Many are also in default of their mortgage payments and many are being retrenched. Exactly what is Rowley, Imbert and Company trying to impose on us. How many of us are retirees with no increases in pensions. Most of us are not in a position to meet the demands that property tax will place on us. 

When the the **** hits the fan I will bet that we will have massive street protests that will cause the fall of Rowley and his dishonest group of troopers. Remember when they said that VAT will be reduced from 15 % to 12.5 %. Yes they did but what the schemers did was to reintroduce VAT on almost all food items that were exempt. Net result is that we technically have an increase in VAT. Can this Government be trusted? 

Imagine a group of three presenters are offering a lecture with the intention of justifying Property Tax at the Arthur Lok Jack School. Cost $1500. I will like to see how many Trinis will be so foolish to pay $1500 to listen to this. Imagine after we spend so much on Stamp Duty, Duties and VAT on our homes we now have to turn around and pay tax on things that have already attracted tax. Property Tax is a disincentive to do home improvements. 

Imagine we have to assess rental income that we could derive from our homes that was built and renovated for us and our families to live in and pay Tax on this.Come on Tribagonians lets us all stand together and tell Rowley and Company that enough is enough.

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Did Kamla and the UNC fail the population when one of their main Election Promises was to AX the TAX.Why did they not repeal the Act that now appears unconstitutional as it was not passed by a 2/3 majority as required by the constitution. Many legal minds are now saying that the act is not valid and can be challenged in court. Also the forms that have been sent out are in breach of regulations as they were not signed by someone in Authority from the Valuation Department. Are we swimming in a comedy of errors? These appear to be good reasons to fire Rowley, Imbert and Al Rawi for starters.The Ministers of Education and Health are comedians by themselves and don't leave out the Minister of Labour. Do we as citizens realize that our country is governed by the most incompetent group of Ministers ever?

 

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What I find interesting is that many of our legal luminaries have not commented as to whether the Property Tax Act is unconstitutional or not. Did it require a 2/3rds majority or not. What about the forms that have been posted out. Did the issuance of the forms comply with the act or not. Are these legal luminaries afraid that they may not get contracts to represent the Government in civil lawsuits etc. Are they more interested in their pockets than service to the nation. 

Listening to the Member of Parliament for Point a Pierre last evening, He made an interesting observation: "When Keith Rowley was a backbencher in the PNM Government led by the late Patrick Manning, Mr. Rowley in his contribution on the Property Tax Act apparently commented that this Tax will create hardships on members of his constituency. If Mr. Lee is right then Mr. Rowley. as the Native Americam Indians would say: "Man speaks with forked tongue."

AS I have commented before, this Property Tax will bring hardships on the majority of homeowners. At this time for the Government to impose such a tax on the already highly taxed population shows how insensitive that they are. Other than the Property Tax and the trigger of increased costs that will follow most are not as yet realizing that Property valuation is linked to the computation of WASA rates so we can expect a double whammy if not a triple as we can also brace for an increase in T&TEC rates.

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Due to conflicting statements by both the Government and the Opposition my suggestion is that as citizens let us comply with the request as far as possible and then let nature takes its course.

What I also find interesting that a number of well known professionals seem to be missing the point. Many are saying that we have been exempted from property tax for a number of years and its time to implement the current taxation. Yes  we have been exempted but since that time and mostly since this Government came into office they have widened the tax base by reintroducing VAT on almost all food items that were previously exempted. Gasoline prices have been increased. Businesses have been burdened with additional taxation, the cost of living has increased significantly mainly due to the exchange rate being higher. Computers and books that were VAT exempted have been reintroduced, education funding has been reduced. So why the rush to burden the population with this Property Tax that many know that they will not be able to pay. Really disappointed with people like Afra Raymond whom I have now lost respect and confidence in his contributions. And he is not alone. But those in favour are well to do citizens who does not care about the majority.

 

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With regards to the completion of the Property Tax Form, many of the attachments that we are being asked to submit does not form part of Schedule 2 of the Act. It also seems to be a fact that due to the manner in which the forms were circulated that if we fail to meet the May 22 deadline we cannot be fined the $500. If what I am being told is correct and I want to agree with the advice I find that the Minister of Finance has lost his credibility by continually stating that the deadline will not be extended. The time frame that we as property owners have been given to submit these returns with the required attachments are totally unacceptable. Just imagine the long queues at the various locations that the forms are to be submitted. And its not only handing the forms and waiting for a receipt but we will also be interviewed. 

For those who are complying it should be noted that rooms referred to on the questionnaire are bedrooms. Even if a bedroom is being used for storage it has to be declared as a bedroom. For many who are living in the homes of deceased parents or relatives where the will was not probated any one of the occupants can complete the return.

Interestingly most HDC homes that are occupied by mainly PNM supporters may not be affected as their arrangement is on of rental or rental with an option to purchase. In both instances the HDC will have to pay the property tax. You can bet your bottom dollar that HDC will not be able to meet this obligation since many if not most of their tenants are in arrears and the HDC will not pass on the cost to these tenants. So my dear friends it will be the middle income earners who will feel the full pinch of this Tax as the wealthy will not have a problem.Also there are many retirees who can barely make ends meet and will now face this Tax and await WASA increases that will follow just as night follows day.

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An extension to the date for filing the Property Tax Return Form has been set to June 05, 2017. Newspaper reports indicate that at point and time there are at least three persons who have filed an injunction against the return. It also appears that the actual property Act will be challenged as it did not have the 2/3 majority as required.

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A High Court Judge has granted a temporary halt to the filing of the Valuation Return or as we refer to it as the Property Tax Form. The stay was granted as Devant Maharaj, a former UNC minister, challenged the legality of the process. This stay will stay in effect until May 31, 2017. Devant Maharaj is represented by Anand Ramlogan SC. The Government has since filed an objection and are well represented by Russell Martineau and Deborah Peake SC as well as Fyard Hosein SC. Hearing is scheduled for Monday 22nd May 2017.

Interesting days ahead.

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Quite often Trinis are heard to say that you won't meet a lawyer in heaven. So I considered two scenarios in the Property Tax appeal. I have heard comments that suggest how difficult it will be for low income earners and retirees to meet the tax obligations, and some of these concerns are by lawyers. But I wonder if one from those low income  groups asked a lawyer to file an appeal against the Tax I am 100% sure that there will be no let up or special fees consideration. The other scenario is if lawyers are of the opinion that the State handled this matter in a manner that did not meet the requirements of the act, but the State decided to appeal as they have done, would any of these high flying lawyers tell the state that not to file an appeal. You can bet your bottom dollar that they won't. Too much fees are involved that we the taxpayers will have to foot.

So maybe you there is a high possibility that you won't meet lawyers in heaven.

 

 

Edited by willanr

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Is the Finance Minister stepping out of order by asking the public to continue submitting the Property Tax Forms despite a court ruling to have a stay on the filing of these forms until the the matter is heard. Is Mr. Rowley allowing Mr. Imbert and Mr. Al Rawi to overstep their boundaries so that he will have good reason to fire them?

 

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The entire thing is a big mess, as seems to be the norm with this government.

I do not agree with property tax as it is a recurring tax on something already purchased and taxed upon purchase via a high stamp duty. Secondly, if a property tax must be paid then it must be used to better the community in which it was paid; not controlled by central government to be used however it feels. It also needs to be introduced slowly and fairly. The simple reality is people have become accustomed to not paying property tax, and before the hiatus the rates were far below what is being requested now. Increases need to come slowly over a period of time, not suddenly dropped in at a far higher rate.

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 I fully agree that the entire thing is a big mess. I am even surprised at the way that the recent judgement was handed down. I am not sure what the court decided. It appears from the judgement that the forms were not sent out according to the act. But the judgement did not quite clearly say that, in that they said the submission of the forms are optional. The Ministry of Finance - Valuation Division has to publish three notices as to what are the required documents that are to accompany the property Tax assessment form. These include Deed/RPO Certificate of Title, Land Survey Plan, Previous Land & Building Taxes receipt, Photograph of the Exterior of Building, Sketch of Building, Site Plan, Building Plan, Rent/Lease Agreement, Completion Certificate. My question is that even though this is being done on a voluntary basis, does Schedule 2 of the Act in question require the submission of all these documents? 

Why is this Government trying to burden the population with what will be a high level of taxation? Look at what this Government has also imposed on the population, excessive charges for traffic offences that are unheard of. 1) Obstructing a traffic warden on duty $10,000.00 fine and/or six months in prison.(Fine raised from $300.00) 2) Caught speeding by the traffic cameras $7,000.00 , a new fine. 3) Drag racing on highways from $2,000.00 to $6,000.00.4) Driving without a driver's permit $1,500.00 5) Driving without a seat belt, a maximum fine of $8,000.00. 6)Driving with a child under the age of five without a car seat $1,500.00. 

God Help Us.

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As I understand it, while the appeal has allowed the collection to continue, the government has to publish that the submission of forms is optional. If they are not submitted, a follow-up letter will be sent addressed to the homeowner, and that is the legally binding one that has to be responded to.

The idea of valuating one's own home and sending in photos is completely absurd, but absurd seems to be the name of the government's game. They won't even collect more money than what they spent on that silly stadium, so in a real sense the property tax could have been postponed by just leaving that thing alone.

As for the traffic fines...well, it's really for another topic but they are equally absurd. Those fines seem higher than some criminal charges, and are higher than some people's monthly salaries! Not to mention the absurdity of them: What constitutes obstruction of a warden, as opposed to just covering it in the same manner as obstructing a traffic police or licensing officer? Why is caught speeding by a camera higher than caught speeding otherwise? Why is not using a seat belt almost 5 times more than not using a child seat?

Instead of these obscenely high fines, just leave the fines where they are and actually enforce them! These are obviously money collection fines, not penalty fines.

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