There has been an increase in submissions of property tax forms to the Valuation Division– but there is also some protesting at valuation offices.
Submission of forms to the division now stands at 165,000.
However, 200,000 forms are needed to trigger the tax.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning spoke about the form submission exercise in Parliament on Wednesday.
The debate was wrapped up last night by Imbert, who described the Opposition’s contribution as “rambling incoherence and irrelevancy.”
Imbert said while MP for Princes Town Barry Pardarath attempted to bring data to the debate, he was still wrong.
Earlier in the debate, Imbert replied to Opposition MP David Lee’s query on a possible extension of the November 30 deadline for submission of property tax forms to the Valuation Division.
An exercise was launched in September for the submission of forms to valuation by persons in possession of land and property.
Notice was issued in the newspapers, online submission systems arranged and 450,000 new return forms were issued to householders.
Defaulters risk a $5,000 fine and criminal offence. Some groups have sought an extension.
Imbert said any extension would have to take place on or before November 30 “if it takes place at all.”
He said his information is that on the previous occasion, 127,000 forms were submitted for residential properties.
“So far on this occasion, approximately further 55,000 forms have been submitted. When disaggregated, we have determined that of the 55,000, about 7,000 are resubmissions and approximately 37,500 are residential.
“So the total number of returns for residential properties at this time is 165,000. According to the law, we have to get to 200,000 before the process of implementation of property tax can start.”
He added, “As a consequence, the Valuation Division is carefully monitoring the situation and an appropriate decision will be taken at an appropriate time.’’
In a subsequent debate on the bill for the T&T Revenue Authority– via which the property tax will be collected– Manning called on the Opposition to try and not intimidate members of the Valuation Division by making their jobs more difficult.
“There’s been some protesting and showing up at Valuation Divisions in an attempt to intimidate hardworking employees,” Manning said.
Manning said additional revenue, through the TTRA from the tax, is projected at $100 million in 2022, $500 million in 2023 and $750 million in 2024, which would supply goods and services for the people.
He said Government also projected the TTRA could bring in close to $1 billion in taxes from the gaming sector between 2022 to 2024.
Total projected taxes from TTRA collection over 2022 to 2024, he added, was $1.5 billion to $3.2 billion.
Manning noted that a World Bank report on the ease of doing business showed T&T’s current system ranked 160 out of 190 in paying taxes.
He said the tax gap annually is $5 billion, which “cannot be allowed to continue.”
Manning said he received letters and complaints daily from people about deficiencies in BIR and Customs and it was time to implement the TTRA after 11 years of attempting.
Manning said currently, a “handful of hardworking people” are carrying T&T’s tax burden and the TTRA will ensure everyone pays their fair share, which will reduce the tax burden for all.