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Letter: Fixing property tax
Published on May 5, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Governments should have no choice but to do things right. Quick fixes should never be an option. In such light, rather than seeking to reduce the lunch hour in schools from one hour to half the time, efforts should be made to upgrade school cafeterias, improve the menu and encourage the students to spend the hour in an environment conducive to development rather than criminal activity. Similarly, introducing property tax without a comprehensive restructuring of our property taxes and community development is nothing but a quick fix.

Basing property tax on the rentable value of a property is a critical flaw in the legislation. For example, a property of similar size in the same community can attract different rents based on furnishings, adjacent property and several temporary factors that make it unfair to the individual who decides to upgrade or properly maintain one’s property. The method of mapping and documenting property based on one’s response to a request for information is also not the best approach. There is simply too much avenues for falsification of information.

The government in seeking to get things right should immediately embark on a nationwide survey, mapping every piece of land in Trinidad and Tobago and assigning to that parcel of land an identification number. This should be followed up by assigning to the occupier of that land one of the following documents:

• a government produced lease (similar to the government produced birth certificate or the new title document for vehicles) after verification of ownership,

• a temporary lease (different colour from the permanent lease) indicating that ownership is not certified,

• an eviction notice noting that within one year one is to move from illegally occupied land or

• a special condition lease where one is allowed to continue occupancy on the property subject to special terms pertinent to the individual situation.

After completing the exercise a property tax should be assigned to the location based on community, access to utilities, purpose of occupancy, value of property and type of ownership. While there should be relief for the elderly, disabled and poor, the value of the tax should not be reduced. There could simply be a rebate or grant based on a case by case analysis of one’s condition.

My advice to the government is while one ought to pay property tax, there is need for restructuring the entire process to ensure equality, efficiency and order.

God bless our nation.

Steve Alvarez
Reads: 3560

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