Imbert: ‘I will pay my property tax’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm Imbert during a recent sitting of Parliament. – File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert says he will pay property tax on his home in Maraval in accordance with the law.

He made this comment when he opened debate on the Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2024 in the Senate on March 25.

The bill was passed in the House of Representatives on March 18 by a vote of 20-15.

After telling senators a citizen personally complained to him at a hardware store about the amount of property tax he had to pay on his home in an upper-class district, Imbert said he had difficulty accepting that person’s argument.

In response to an inaudible question from temporary Opposition Senator Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Imbert said the Valuations Division of his ministry has set his home’s rental value at $25,000 a month.

“I have to pay property tax of $9,000 per year. This is my information and I have disclosed it.”

Imbert admitted that when he first saw how much his home was valued at and found out what the associated property tax was, “It was a little bit on the high side.”

He said his house is 35 years old and was not architect-designed.

But, he said, “I have no intention of objecting (to paying property tax). I will pay my $9,000.”

Imbert said it would be wrong for him “to object to myself for a valuation that I considered to be much too high, 50 per cent too high”

He told senators the main complaints about property tax are coming from upper- and middle-class property-owners who believe the tax they are being asked to pay is too high.

The Valuation Division, Imbert continued, has worked for several years with the International Property Tax Institute of Canada to scientifically determine the appropriate tax rates for different residential properties.

He said the classifications of these properties range from “executive” to “shack.”

Imbert dismissed Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s claims that the UNC planned to repeal property tax legislation while it was in government from 2010-2015.

Referring to a bill that Mark displayed at a news conference on Sunday at the UNC headquarters in Chaguanas, Imbert said the property tax under that bill would have been more draconian than the tax the PNM is asking people to pay.

He added it is public knowledge that the bill Mark referred to was laid in Parliament in 2011, lapsed and never saw the light of day again.