Imbert: 247,999 property tax returns received for private homes

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm Imbert. – Parliament

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert has said his ministry has received some 247,999 returns for residential property for payment of the property tax, paving the way for the collection of that tax.

He was replying to a listed question by Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh in the House of Representatives on Friday.

In a supplemental question, Indarsingh asked if these returns had let the Government meet the legal threshold of returns required for the implementation of the tax.

Imbert replied that the country has 400,000 residential properties, some 247,999 returns were received, and the threshold is a 50 per cent submission rate.

By Newsday’s calculation, the number of residential returns lodged did in fact meet and exceed the 50 per cent requirement.

Imbert said the ministry had also received 10,303 returns for commercial lands, 17,663 agricultural returns and 18,495 mixed-use returns.

In September 2021, a paid press advertisement said non-compliance would incur a $5,000 fine.

The Valuation of Land Act in fact listed this sum as a fine for obstruction of officers of the Valuation Division, saying any non-submission of a return would be penalised by a $500 fine.

Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo gave an immediate response to Newsday. “We maintain that the imposition of this tax at this time, and on the basis on which it is calculated – annual rental value for properties that earn no revenue – is a burden on the backs and necks of citizens at a time when many are unable to bear it, especially in light of rising food prices, higher utility rates coming, higher transport costs and falling standards of living.”