The new land and building tax regime will have a completely new valuation system from the one formulated by the People’s National Movement (PNM), Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after his first public address since delivering the budget statement in Parliament on Monday, at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s annual Post-Budget Forum at Capital Plaza Hotel in Port of Spain, Howai said Cabinet still needed to determine a valuation method.
He was unsure about whether or not rental values will impact the rate as was suggested in the PNM’s system.
“Our aim is to get back to the position where the tax that is paid is no different to what would have been paid in 2010. We will start from that position, which will basically recover the revenue that was there in 2012 to the public purse while ensuring that we do not put an unnecessary burden on individuals,” he said.
He added as mentioned in the previous budget, the tax will be waived up to 2013.
“‘Axe the tax’ might have been the slogan; I think people don’t mind paying the tax, which represents the value of the services they receive (from the State) in the areas they live and work.
“I think people were concerned at the onerous nature of the tax that would have been implemented. So the intention is to go back to where we were in 2010, that is to be no more onerous or higher, to be what it was in 2010 as far as the individual cost to taxpayers,” he said.
He also said he wanted to emphasise the first part of the tax will impact industrial land and not smaller individuals. He said the infrastructure was already in place to begin collecting from the time stated in the Budget, July 2014.
Howai said he was “surprised” by comments about the Government’s lack of implementation of certain infrastructural projects promised in previous budgets.
“I think, by and large, a lot of things have been started.... One of the things said is we have not built (various sports centres) but the work has started and is advanced, but you won’t be able to do it in 12 months.
“Construction started in April so work is ongoing, but to build the building and to equip it will take longer than a year, so I was a little bit surprised—it was information to me—that people would say it was not completed because I thought it was understood that it couldn’t be completed in that period....
“We need to provide subsequent clarification to make sure everyone is aware of what is intended and what is likely to be completed within the year,” he said.