Imbert clarifies ‘misinformation’ on property tax

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm Imbert –

Finance Minister Colm Imbert sought to clarify what he described as misinformation being spread about the collection of residential property taxes. He did so during debate on the Finance Bill 2023 in the Senate on Tuesday.

“We are a country of misinformation. Property tax will be waived until December 31, 2023. It becomes applicable on January 1, 2024.”

Imbert told senators that notices sent out to people from the ministry’s valuation division were only for valuation of their residential properties.

“There was a lot of confusion and misinformation. Deliberate misinformation where persons were led to believe that notice of valuation was a notice of property tax. It is not.”

Imbert said, “Fortunately, I was able to quash that mischief.”

He reminded senators that property tax is determined by taking the annual rental value (ARV) of a property and multiplying it by 2.7 per cent.

Imbert said this meant an ARV of $100,000 attracts a property tax of $2,700 per year.

He observed that after clarifying the difference between ARVs and property tax, the argument turns to whether rental values are fair.

“I have had persons from the most prestigious neighbourhoods in Trinidad and Tobago complain to me about the ARV that has been assessed for their property.”

He identified Federation Park in St Clair as an example.

“People from Federation Park have complained to me that their houses are being valued at a rental value equivalent to just around $18,000 a month.” Imbert said, “I had a very passionate group coming to me and saying that can’t be right.”

He continued, “Federation Park is getting more than $10,000 per month for their property. How does one deal with that? One knows that that is not so.” He said he expects there will be improper valuations on some properties as property tax is rolled out.

“Of that I have no doubt. This is a new system. There will be valuations that make no sense.”

He said this is why the property tax legislation has a challenge process for people who believe their properties have been improperly valued.

Imbert added the legislation also allows for people such as pensioners who cannot pay property taxes on their homes to seek a deferral.

He told senators that such a deferral does not apply if a pensioner sells his or her property to a more wealthy person who has the ability to pay the tax. Imbert said in such situations, that person must pay the tax.

He also said the legislation was amended by the bill to allow local government corporations to collect residential property taxes.