Property owners do not have to pay for fowl coops, duck ponds or dog houses

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Colm Imbert, has taken note of a melodramatic article in the Daily Express of May 29, 2018 entitled “Property Tax Bill Passed: Pay for your Dog House”. In this article, it is alleged that the Minister of Finance said in Parliament yesterday that property owners will have to pay for any dog house, fowl pen, duck pond on their land.
However, this is simply not true, and the Minister of Finance said no such thing.

The matter under discussion was a specific clause in the Property Tax Act Amendment Bill, clause 3A, whereby in the case of townhouses, condominiums and multi-owner commercial accommodations, each townhouse, condominium or single commercial accommodation would be deemed to be land and may therefore be valued and assessed separately for the purposes of Property Tax.

The Leader of the Opposition sought to widen the specific issue under discussion, which was really only relevant to multi-owner properties, to ask whether duck ponds, dog houses and fowl coops would be liable to tax. The Leader of the Opposition also sought clarification on the minimum rental value of a property.

The Minister of Finance simply responded to the query from the Leader of Opposition by clarifying that properties would be valued based on the value of the raw land associated with the property, plus the value of any buildings thereon.

The Minister also clarified that the minimum annual rental value in the Bill, of $18,000 per year, which would result in a property tax of $40 per month, would not be imposed for each of the items mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, but rather, in arriving at the minimum tax of $40 per month, the property would be valued in its totality.

At no time did the Minister state or even suggest that property owners would have to pay for dog houses, fowl pens or duck ponds and the Express article is therefore misleading in the extreme.

The discussion in Parliament was about the process of assessment of the value of various buildings situated on a piece of land, in the context of the minimum property tax of $40 per month, and nothing more.
It is to be noted that in today’s Trinidad Guardian, there is an article with a similarly misleading headline, erroneously stating that tax will be due on dog kennels.

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