CM: PROPERTY TAX COMES WITH COMPASSION, EQUITY, FAIRNESS

anguillian
By anguillian August 22, 2016 10:13 Updated

 

 

 

 

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L-R: Mr. Curtis Richardson, Mr. Evans McNiel Rogers, Chief Minister Mr. Victor Banks, Mrs. Evalie Bradley and Mr. Cardigan Connor

There are concerns and questions in the community about the new Property Tax 2016 which has recently been implemented by the Anguilla Government to collect some well-needed revenue from this source during the course of this financial year.

Such was the public outpouring on the issue, that Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Victor Banks, went on radio on Monday, August 15, to explain various matters related to the sudden notification of the tax; how the system is to be conducted; and certain reductions and other incentives that are being offered to encourage compliance. (The text of his Radio Anguilla broadcast is printed elsewhere in this edition of The Anguillian.) As a further effort to calm the fears of the Property Taxpayers, Mr. Banks used the opportunity of a long-delayed Government press conference, on Tuesday, August 16, to speak on the tax as well. He was accompanied by Minister of Social Development, Mr. Evans McNiel Rogers; Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Curtis Richardson; Ministerial Assistant in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Evalie Bradley; and Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, Sports and Youth and Culture, Mr. Cardigan Connor. They all spoke on matters related to their particular areas of ministerial responsibility.
Chief Minister Banks said at the press conference that the previous Government of the Anguilla United Movement had increased the tax by 150 percent, during its recent term of office, in an effort to make it more realistic in terms of application and revenue collection. The Anguilla United Front Government, however, moved to redefine the structure and application of the tax by creating classes and categories of payment. He explained that the effort was to make it more fair and equitable taking into account that the taxpayers included owners of upscale hotel and villa properties at the island’s prime tourism locations, and ordinary Anguillian citizens and other residents with less fancy and smaller properties, etc. He observed that despite the obvious differences in properties, all owners were paying the same amount of property tax per square foot and he felt that for this, and other reasons, it was an unfair and inequitable tax.
“It is important that we bring equity and fairness to the system and that is why any time is the right time to bring equity and fairness to the system,” he stressed. “That is the clear objective of what are we are doing. Compassion is also an integral part of the implementation process.”
Mr. Banks continued: “59% of the taxpayers would have seen an increase of less that 50% on their bills; 78% would see an increase of less than 100%; and about 22% would see an increase of more than 100%; and there are 271 persons who would have seen a reduction in their bill.” He explained the variations as having to do with locations of properties (hotels and villas), expansion of buildings in the 22% category and other properties (of the 271 persons) which, for certain reasons of affordability, needed reduction of property tax.
Mr. Banks said that originally the Government had hoped to raise 10 million EC dollars from Property Tax this year but, because of the question of affordability among taxpayers, the tax was recalculated at a reduced but realisable budget estimate of 6.65 million instead. He spoke about Government offering persons an incentive of up to 20% reduction on this year’s Property Tax for making the payments (including arrears) before the two due dates. He observed that, overall, total arrears of Property Tax amounted to between 8 and 9 million dollars.
He went on: “In the interest of improving compliance and bringing back the culture of paying Property Tax…during this period, we are removing the penalties and late fees on arrears for persons who will come in and make arrangements to pay not immediately but over time.” He added: “Some people may have lost their jobs; and some people’s business may be struggling. You can come in and talk to the Department [of Inland Revenue] on these issues. There is also a Valuation Review Committee to which questions can be addressed.”

anguillian
By anguillian August 22, 2016 10:13 Updated

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