By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Real Estate Association’s (BREA) newly-elected president yesterday said it was “grossly unfair” for the Government to levy Stamp Tax based on on appraisal values rather than the instant property transaction’s sales price.
Cara Sweeting suggested this was “opening the door” for more dishonesty rather than dealing with the issue.
She explained: “In the past, it was whatever the sales agreement said, and supported by an appraisal. If you qualified for the [Stamp Tax] exemption or didn’t qualify for the exemption, that’s what the Stamp Tax was paid on. The Government had a lot of problems collecting on Stamp Tax.
“Now, because they feel there are fixed sales agreements and fixed appraisals, they are now charging on the appraisal value instead of the sales transaction, which is grossly unfair,” Ms Sweeting told a meeting of the Rotary Club of West Nassau.
“If you have a house that’s listed for $500,000, that’s not necessarily the appraised value, but that’s what you are hoping it sells for,” she added. “The Government is now making you pay the Stamp Tax on what it appraises for, and that appraisal could be $600,000-$700,000, because no one is getting appraisal values anymore. It should be on what you paid for it, not on what it is appraised at,” Ms Sweeting said.
“We have appraisers fixing properties and lawyers fixing sales agreements. My answer to that is deal with those persons. What you are going to create is more dishonesty because the appraiser, if you say I’ll give you an extra $500 to make this right, will do that. I think you’re opening up the doors for more dishonesty rather than dealing with the issues.”