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News Report: Chamber urges phased approach on real property tax collection

Written by Paige McCartney, The Nassau Guardian, January 27th, 2022

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday urged the government to consider a phased implementation of its new real property tax collections, to ensure businesses successfully rebound from the economic downturn.

The Department of Inland Revenue this month issued revised real property tax valuations, which the chamber said left some businesses and employers shocked by the significant dollar value increase for what is owed to government.

The Ministry of Finance has said the reassessment exercise is essential to ensure there is fair and equitable distribution of the tax burden, noting that 70 percent of property owners on New Providence would experience no change or a reduction in their property valuation.

The BCCEC said the government must consider the impact of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic on the business community and employers, adding that the reassessed taxed amounts have amounted to increases between 0 to 500 percent.

“For example, some property owners have reported tax increases of between 100 percent to 435 percent from the previous year. Such a significant and sudden increase in tax liabilities can devastatingly impact businesses and employers, particularly in an economic downturn,” the BCCEC pointed out in a statement.

“Therefore, the BCCEC urges the government to consider a glide path approach to implementing the changes prompted by the property reassessments. Such an approach would lessen the tax price shock and economic strain on taxpayers.”

It has been decades since the government has conducted an overall valuation exercise of properties on New Providence.

The BCCEC said it is not the fault of property owners that the value of their properties has appreciated in that time, adding that the government should consider the protracted time between assessments.

“A staged implementation would best ensure businesses remain going concerns, successfully rebound from the economic downturn and continue to contribute to the country’s economic growth and sustainability,” the BCCEC stated.

“Most importantly, the fair and balanced approach advocated for by the BCCEC demonstrates the fundamental and necessary partnership between the government and the business community.”

Earlier this week, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis advised anyone who is not satisfied with the new, reassessed level of their real property tax bill this year to file an appeal.

The government said it could generate $450 million in revenue over the next five years from real property taxes under this reformed system.

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