Relief for 272,000 Property Owners

More than 272,000 property owners will benefit from a reduction in property tax, or experience no change to what they paid in 2016, when the new property tax regime takes effect on April 1.

The reformed property tax system, recently announced by the Government, increases the value band from the previous three to nine, with reduced tax rates from a flat rate of $1,000 for properties valued at $400,000 and under to a high of 1.3 per cent for those valued at $18,000,000 and over.

The new rates are based on the 2013 property valuations carried out by the National Land Agency (NLA) and mean that some persons may experience increases of varying percentages on their property tax.

Director, Revenue Enhancement and Resource Mobilisation at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Calvert Thomas, speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ yesterday (March 30), said for those persons who have been affected by increases, the Ministry is doing as much as possible to address the concerns.

He noted that one of the options available is for persons to apply for special discretionary relief to get a reduction in their property taxes.

This is granted by the Ministry of Finance in cases of hardship.

“You complete a form, submit it to your local authority and your case will be considered. A bipartisan committee, consisting of members of the local authority, the church, civil society, the business sector, Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) and the Ministry of Finance, will look at the individual circumstances and recommend the level of concession to be given, and this will be put to the Ministers of Finance and Local Government,” he explained.

The application is to be made each year. The forms will be available at municipal corporations by next week as well as at all tax offices across the country. Persons may also apply for other types of relief – Statutory and Agricultural derating.

Meanwhile, Chief Corporate Communications Officer at TAJ, Meris Haughton, said that options have been put in place at TAJ to accommodate persons who may face challenges meeting their obligations.

“There are provisions within the Property Tax Collection Act wherein persons can make payment in instalments. Payments can be made quarterly, halfyearly or in full; and for this year, we are also saying to persons that they can make their payment on a monthly basis,” she outlined.

The payment in instalment is particularly for persons living on a fixed income.

Persons who are paying at the flat rate for properties valued at $400,000 or less are exempted from this offer.

Miss Haughton said that while the due date for property tax is April 1, payments, whether instalments or full, can be made by April 30.

In the meantime, TAJ and the NLA will extend their opening hours to the public to accommodate the anticipated high volume of persons.

Saturday services are also being offered at eight TAJ offices, namely Montego Bay, May Pen, Mandeville, Spanish Town, St. Ann’s Bay, Constant Spring and Savanna-la-Mar from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Portmore office will continue its regular Saturday opening.

Beginning this Saturday, April 1, the NLA will open its Ardenne Road office in Kingston in the first instance from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The public is also being encouraged to utilise TAJ’s online payment by logging on to www.jamaicatax.gov.jm. A tax hub has also been created on the website to provide all the required information as well as forms for the different types of relief.

The TAJ will offer outstation services from April to June in several areas across the country, in collaboration with the Local Government Ministry.

In addition, the mobile tax collection unit will be in Portmore, St. Catherine, at Ken’s Wildflower on Friday, March 31 and at Caymans Country Club on Saturday, April 1. It will also be at Prospect and the Mandeville tax office, Manchester, on Friday, March 31.

Article by: Sheri-Ann Palmer
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm

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