Finance Minister Colm Imbert said on Wednesday that four Local Government bodies in Trinidad could collect up to $198 million in property taxes a year when all properties in those corporations have been valued using the annual rental valuation methodology.
Imbert told Parliament: “Based on properties that have already been registered, I can say that the Regional Corporation of Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, when all residential properties have been valued, will be in receipt of $44 million.
“The Regional Corporation of Penal/Debe, when all properties in that region have been valued and taxes paid, will get $35 million a year.
“The Regional Corporation of Tunapuna/Piarco, being one of the more populated corporations, will get $67 million a year.
“The Borough of Chaguanas is estimated to get $52 million from property tax.”
He said the money the regional corporations collect is not “chickfeed or peanuts,” but a substantial revenue stream that the local government bodies will use to provide services such as garbage collection and drain cleaning.
Imbert was speaking on Wednesday night on the Valuation of Land (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which seeks to amend the property tax law that is about to be rolled out in T&T.
Imbert said he received the information from staff in the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance who were monitoring the debate and did calculations based on information already available to them. The information is based on properties that have already been registered.
The Minister of Finance said in order to generate the sums of money he outlined, the regional corporations will have to do the work of collecting the tax from property owners in their districts.
“This tax is local at the purest level. The tax is collected by the corporations. It is retained by the corporations and spent by the corporations,” said Imbert, adding that if the Borough of Chaguanas did its work, by ensuring that all of the residential properties in the borough are valued, then they are in line to collect $52 million a year.
Imbert said based on all available data, the number of properties in T&T is estimated at about 600,000. He said that number is based on information from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), TTPOST, as well as aerial photographs and data collected from the previous Land and Building tax regime.
Based on data from T&TEC, recently acquired, Imbert said it is estimated that there are about 400,000 residential properties in T&T.
He pointed out that the Valuation Division had digitised 536,876 properties in Trinidad and 33,665 properties in Tobago for a total digitisation of the outlines of building in T&T of 570,541 properties.
Imbert said that in the 2021/2022 exercise to collect information on properties, the Government was able to source information on a total of 186,000 properties, about 136,000 of which were residential.
Added to property records that were in place from a similar exercise in 2017 and other records, Imbert said the Valuation Division informed him that it had passed the 50 per cent threshold some time ago.
He said the current number of residential properties that are ready for the property roll is 232,000.
Imbert said in at least 100 countries around the world, the annual rental value is the tried, tested and established method of valuation for property tax assessment.
“In the Caribbean alone, eight of 13 countries that impose property tax use the annual rental value,” said the minister.