Inland Revenue to Administer Property Tax from April
Contact: John Emmanuel
January 11, 1999 - Beginning later this year the collection of Property taxes within the boundaries of the City will fall under the auspices of the Inland Revenue Department. The move is part of attempts by government at consolidating the collection process, which at the moment is being overseen by 11 different agencies.
Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Trevor Braithwaite says his department will be setting up a Property Tax Unit in preparation for administering the tax. "This unit will be suitably staffed with qualified individuals who will take over the responsibility of the management of Property Taxes on the island. The system will involve the compilation of a new tax roll, preparation of new tax assessments as well as a total review of the Land Tax and Valuation Act," says Brathwaite.
In the past the Castries City Council has complained bitterly about the high percentage of Castries residents who have defaulted in payment of property taxes resulting in massive arrears.
Mr. Braithwaite says his department is currently locked in negotiation with the City Council in order to ascertain how the problem of non-payment of property taxes can best be dealt with and the outstanding arrears cleared. He says among the several options being considered is that of granting an Amnesty. That measure however needs the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Government collects between 6 8 million dollars annually on Property Taxes. Under the new system that amount is expected to increase significantly. The hand over date is set for April 1 of this year.
Meantime the Castries City Council says its considers varying measures aimed at getting defaulters to pay-up. According to Castries Mayor Irvin John, Council may also be considering seriously, measures aimed at punishing consistent defaulters. The matter he says is currently in the hands of Councils attorneys.
The non-payment of Property Taxes Mr. John say has in the past cost government significantly. He welcomed the handing over of the collection of the tax to the Inland Revenue Department, saying that the move would allow Council to focus more attention to other matters affecting the City.
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