0

50% Property Tax Amnesty: Huge Incentive To Persuade Families To Wipe Out Arrears

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Donavan McIntosh

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Donavan McIntosh

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday announced the government’s intention to offer a real property tax amnesty programme while announcing a scheme to offer “upscale” western New Providence building lots to young Bahamians.

Speaking in the House of Assembly Dr Minnis said officials realised recovering overdue property tax has been a long-standing challenge.

“There has been some improvement over the years, but there remains a substantial backlog of real property tax arrears spanning many administrations. My government understands the challenges faced by families and business owners, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 economic downturn.

“To ease the burden on persons and to provide them with some measure of relief, Cabinet has approved a real property tax forgiveness programme that will provide substantial discounts on arrears.

“For Bahamian property owners my government will waive 50 percent of the total amount unpaid arrears for more than 180 days on such property, including overdue tax and accumulated surcharges, where full payment of all amounts due and payable is made on or before the 31st May, 2021.”

For those who are unable to pay 50 percent, Dr Minnis said if they enter into a payment agreement with a 25 percent down payment on or before the 31st May, 2021, the government will waive the total accumulated surcharge payable on taxes assessed on such property that has remained unpaid for more than 180 days.

Dr Minnis urged Bahamians to contact the Department of Inland Revenue and take full advantage of this tax forgiveness programme.

As regards the initiative to offer building plots to younger families Dr Minnis said he was of the view “our young people deserve” a better chance at living the Bahamian dream of homeownership, jobs and proper quality of life.

In view of this, he said two areas in the western portion of the island have been identified for lots earmarked for young Bahamians. The lots are valued at $150,000 but will be sold at a cost of $50,000 or less. Those in the Carmichael area valued at $70,000 are being offered at $15,000.

The programme is being carried out through a public private partnership.

Dr Minnis made the announcement during the start of debate on the 2020 Fiscal Strategy Report and Public Financial Management, Debt Management, Statistics and Public Procurement Bills.

The Killarney MP said: “Many of our young people would find great difficulty in purchasing land within our country and before I expand on that I only want to point out that we have started already with the service lots programme, most recently in Carmichael and there in the Carmichael area lots that would be appraised, that’s with all the infrastructure in place, would be sold. I know initially we had said $20,000 but Cabinet feels that our young people deserve even a better chance and these service lots with all the infrastructure in the Carmichael area although appraised at $70,000 will be sold to our young Bahamian populace at $15,000.

“Mr Speaker what that would mean, and we have discussed this with financial entities that would mean a $70,000 lot. The government is selling to its citizens for $15,000 and it means that they already have an equity of $55,000 and therefore they can use that equity as a down payment to build their homes as opposed to the obstacles they face today. Never before has this been done.”

He continued: “The demand for this has been overwhelming. Today, I am pleased to advise that through a PPP arrangement, we will soon be launching the commencement of a 150-lot subdivision, upscale within western New Providence area that will be geared strictly to young professionals, young Bahamians, young millennials.

“Mr Speaker, the cost of land especially in the western area is prohibitive. Our young professionals coming back or finishing University of the Bahamas cannot afford to buy land.

“I had purchased three pieces some time ago within the western district in New Providence - one for each of my sons and I purchased those lots at $40,000 each and today each is worth $150,000. What it meant that had I not bought it for them they could not afford it and many young people fall within that category. Today the land is too expensive and it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that Bahamians can participate in what we call he Bahamian dream. They want to own a home. They want jobs and they want a proper quality of life and healthcare.

“Land has been identified and we were concentrated on one set of land, 150 lots upscale with clubhouse facility, also upscale, but the demand and the request was so great that we’ve looked for more and I am proud to say that we have identified another area, all in the western district and within the Killarney constituency. So, for those young people watching me as I speak I say to them welcome to Killarney.”

Those who qualify will also be able to build their homes duty free, Dr Minnis noted.

Comments

K4C 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Good Gawd, anything to stay in power, what about those who actually pay their fair share of taxes, what do the get, besides the shaft ?

3rd world mentally

just terrible

3

KapunkleUp 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Damn right! People who actually pay on time are always getting the short end. Property tax has been a cruel joke for decades. First of all, it is their standard practise to value a property 2 or 3 times the actual value. A friend of mine owns an apartment with a "real value" of around $200K. A few years ago they valued it at around $500K. He still fighting about it. We need real world pricing! Second, stop this amnesty crap!! If you don't pay anything, your property will be auctioned off.

2

yeahyasee 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Prob should stop paying on time and wait for the next Amnesty you'll save some coin!

3

Dawes 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Am i correct in thinking that those who have done the right thing and paid their real property tax on time are getting screwed. What incentive is there to pay this tax if successive Governments give an amnesty. You may as well pocket the money each year and wait for the amnesty and then pay. If this is right then i would advise no FNM person to come solicit my vote this year.

3

Tarzan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The failure of a broad swath of the Bahamian citizenry to pay their real property taxes is more than a scandal, it is a blight on the nation's financial stability. That said, no reasonable person can deny that this situation is one of long standing, going back to the very outset of national Independence. To provide a chance for relief, via some reduction for properties valued at the lower end of the spectrum, in order to reorder the system, makes a world of sense. What makes no sense is to permit the wealthy, and this includes legions of current and former governmental officials, to escape one dime of the taxes including penalties they owe and have owned for years. There needs to be a bill passed that requires the government to foreclose and sell properties that have unpaid real property tax bills and to use the proceeds to retire the obligation. This proposed relief bill if limited to properties below $250,000 in appraised value would not be offensive. If fairness requires, provide some future relief to such lower value properties in the form of a discount. If such a law were passed, stand back and watch the Fat Cats scramble to pay up. They hold properties worth billions and they are not going to lose them. Further with a firm eye on past failure to collect, this proposal will bring few of those large scale miscreants to the table.

0

newcitizen 1 month, 2 weeks ago

There is no property tax on properties valued below $250,000, or on vacant land, or on any out island property owned by a Bahamian.

0

longgone 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What are you going to do about people like me who have being paying our taxes all along. Do I get 50 percent back?? I think not!!

3

bahamianson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

don't pay taxes for 8 months and get a 50% discount . what a deal ! We need to do that every year. No one pays taxes until the government gives you a deal to pay 50 %. The bad gets rewarded and the good gets punished. Sounds like the US democratic party.

2

tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Here we see Minnis demonstrating his failed leadership in a most convincing way. Having failed to introduce meaningful economic policies conducive to the creation of new jobs in the private sector, and having grossly mishandled both the Hurricane Dorian crisis and the COVID-19 crisis, Minnis decides masquerading as Robin Hood is now his only Hail Mary chance of getting re-elected in the national general election he will very soon be announcing.

The vast majority of Bahamians who do not own real property and cannot afford to do so should see Minnis's generous tax forgiveness programme for what it truly is. It is an outright blatant and most disgusting freebie handout to the more wealthy in our country who already own most of the real property, especially on New Providence, and who have for years been tax dodgers. For decades PLP and FNM administrations alike have been conditioning these more wealthy tax dodgers to periodic tax amnesty announcements thereby incentivizing, by moral hazard, their non-payment of real property taxes owed to the Public Treasury.

What Minnis has done here is truly unforgiveable because he is literally rewarding the more wealthy property owners in our society for their bad 'tax dodging' behaviour. And he is most deceitfully doing so under the guise of helping the needy in our society. But the first $250,000 of a property's assessed value is already tax exempt so the vast majority of Bahamians not among the more wealthy property owners already pay little or no property tax. Yes indeed, this is a big freebie that mainly benefits the more wealthy in our society who have valuable property holdings and have not been paying their property taxes for decades. And just think how those property owners who have always paid their property taxes by the due date must feel about this most unfair tax forgiveness programme.

I would of course be remiss in not pointing out that seriously misguided and flawed policies of our corrupt politicians of both the PLP and FNM persuasion have been a significant contributing factor to the unaffordability of land on New Providence. Notwithstanding the obvious scarcity of our land resources, our corrupt politicians have given many foreigners residency rights in return for them making sizeable investments in residential property. And of course our corrupt politicians giving hundreds of acres of land to billionaire foreign real estate developers like Joe Lewis of the Tavisstock/Albany group was unfathomably wrong on all counts.

Since May 2017 the Minnis-led FNM administration has shown that it only knows how to borrow like there's no tomorrow and grow the size of our grossly over-bloated civil workforce. And while doing so, this worthless Minnis-led FNM administration has only exacerbated the waste, fraud and corruption that have become the hallmarks of our civil workforce and elected officials. Minnis has proven himself to be a failed leader without equal; the worst PM ever!

1

FrustratedBusinessman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I can't believe that Minnis is making Davis look like a sensible option. This is just bad, even for the low standards that I have regarding Bahamian politicians as a whole.

The Bahamas truly is a banana republic. You don't pay your taxes in the US or Canada, and the IRS/CRA will be slapping interest on your bill, or putting a lien on your property, not giving you a discount.

3

sheeprunner12 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Rewarding entitled delinquents ............. Our Governments will never have respect because they always bend over backwards to help those who can afford to pay ......... Poor & ordinary Bahamian people do not have to pay Real Property taxes ........ most of the RPT are paid by Family Island wealthy expats, Eastern Road and Western NP/Lyford Cay/Albany and other rich enclaves ....... Why give them a break????????

2

Honestman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This is a shocking and irresponsible move by the Prime Minister. It is NEVER a good idea to reward tax dodging. This is typical third world mentality and a slap in the face to all those who paid on time. Really BAD move.

4

bahamianson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Third world mentality? I humbly do not think so . This is the type of thinking that is happening in the first world America. You can vote without confirming whom you are, don't need an identification, people just walk across the border and get full benefits. No, this is first world thinking.

0

Proguing 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Can I claim 50% return on my property taxes already paid? Or are we only rewarding delinquent taxpayers? Won’t this make compliance with paying taxes even worse, as more as people will now be waiting for tax amnesties to pay their taxes?

So, we know an election is coming with all these giveaways, which will be followed by a sharp increase in taxes. Does this make any sense?

And why have an election in the middle of a pandemic? Why not wait next year when everyone will have been vaccinated? How many Bahamians will catch Covid at campaign rallies and during the voting process?

2

The_Oracle 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Purely a political move, pandering to the national slackness. Encouraging people to not pay their taxes and rewarding them for it. He just lost my vote. Nor will I vote the other way.

2

Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I really do hate these dumb ass politicians. So frustrating. I'm done with voting as they all turn out to be the worst of the worst and an absolute embarrassment that I can no longer put my X next to.

2

cx 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The land discount seems nice as long as its not swamp land. I could use some of that. The other stuff not sure that's a good thing.

0

BONEFISH 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What is this?

The FNM on assuming office in 2017 disbanded the revenue enhancement unit .This unit was designed to go after tax-evaders. It collected ninety million dollars in six months after hurricane Matthew. One of lies given by this FNM government was that it was ineffective. Moody's the rating agency said that the unit was effective and questioned why it was disbanded.

This FNM government terminated the contract with Tyler Technologies. Tyler was engaged in the process of modernizing the real property unit .One of the things they were doing were digitizing the real property register. This FNM government realized after about a year, that project was needed. They had to re-engage Tyler Technologies at a higher price.

Now in a fiscal crunch, they come up with this cockamamie idea. Write off 50% of amount due from delinquent real property tax payers. Reward persons tor their delinquency. Some body said to me, I pay my property tax bills on time. What about me? The person said to me they can't get a discount on what they have paid on time and in full.

1

IslandPriest 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Let me help everyone out. If you don’t pay your property taxes on time you are charged a
penalty almost equal to the tax assessed. If there is an amnesty in the future, then you are actually paying the original amount assessed. So continue paying your tax bill on time. The country needs the money.

0

DWW 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You know who is really tax dodging? all the owners of duplexes and triplexes. granting an amnesty eveyr 5 years does not get the intended long term results and every one knows it. Who are the biggest tax dogders? the MPs and their friends in high places.
The Property Tax Law requires that the entire tax role is made public. Is it? why can't i find a list of people who haven't paid their taxes? is it a secret?
Giving away land in his own constituency? Is he really that conceited?

0

propane66 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Why are you blaming Minnis?....the last amnesty was 8 years ago by Christie. I think it's a great idea, as I am of the belief property values are too high on the Inland Revenue books anyway. We are being overcharged.

The idea we auction off properties who haven't paid is lubricous. Most have a big mortgage with the bank anyway. have you seen the banks foreclosed properties that they can't sell?.....it's mind boggling the amount.

Times are tough man.

And another positive thing this would create a stimulus for house sales as you can't sell a property until property tax paid.

0

Dawes 1 month, 2 weeks ago

To get a mortgage most banks now require proof you have paid real property. So most people are those who just choose not to pay, and haven't paid long before Covid. This is an asinine idea and all it will do is make more people say there is no point in paying. Also it won't simulate house sales as there is no incentive to have a house sale. You need around 20% appreciation before you personally make a dollar (10% Stamp, Real estate fees 65, lawyers 2% etc). All this is is a desperate idea to make some money without caring about the repercussions as thats down the road.

0

Sign in to comment