Eliminate the mystery, the anxiety of the property tax | Journalist

There has been a lot of debate and discussion in the public domain as the people of Trinidad and Tobago become more familiar with the requirements outlined in the valuation document / template to be used to determine what our citizens will pay in property taxes.
It is reasonable to conclude that the mixed feelings presented publicly seem to be fading in favor of those who are very concerned about the process suggested by the government. Based on this alone, the writers of this model should certainly take a closer look, having reviewed some of the many views presented by many credible people in our country.
It reminds me of the days when voting machines were considered under the government of Eric Eustace Williams; which raised so many doubts and uncertainties in the public, that the thought of machines was put aside. I quote former President Arthur NR Robinson, in a conversation with me in 2000, as he recalled the history of voting machines. He said: “A large part of the population did not trust the use of machines and when in doubt it happens.
A simple analogy, but it presents an acceptable reason and logic.
My personal view is that the cumbersome evaluation process has connotations of something that we can find in some socialist countries; where the state wants to know everything about you, and everything you own and have. It is frightening, and it is easy to harbor a sense of invasion of your privacy, when such full disclosure is forced upon our citizens.
Outside of this component of the exercise, there seem to be so many variables that are used to determine property taxes, especially taking into account the variety of homes and community infrastructure. In some areas of the United States, property taxes are based solely on state spending on education, infrastructure improvements, and other services provided by the state to its citizens. This approach removes subjectivity in the process of determining what taxes would be, as expenditure figures would be easily verifiable. However, I know that this approach would be impossible to apply in T&T, as quantifying these expenses can be a Herculean task, only to be ordered by Zeus.
I propose to use an approach that is more reliable, less subjective, and certainly less impactful and less burdensome for our citizens, using an approach that would be easily calculable.
Almost 90 percent of T&T households pay for electricity, over 75 percent own a motor vehicle, and over 75 percent of households benefit from a service provided by the Water and Sewerage Authority. Electricity bills are generated every two months and water bills are generated quarterly. Electricity bills vary from household to household, with the cost being influenced by the size of the home. Water bills are standard at $ 380 per quarter. Currently, no tax is imposed on the use of vehicles on our roads. However, vehicles are also part of our real estate portfolio and should be factored into the equation.
Property taxes can include the following: an annual average of six billing cycles for electricity (in my case, I pay about $ 2,500 every two months); a vehicle tax of $ 500 to $ 250 with the age-related charge, with $ 500 for vehicles less than five years old and $ 400 for vehicles over five years old but less than seven years old , all older vehicles subject to a tax rate of $ 250. 50% of what WASA charges you for a quarter (about $ 190, or 50% of the quarterly bill of $ 380) would go into determining your taxes.
An estimate of my property taxes would be $ 3,490 per year, based on the above formula. Including my electric bill of $ 2,500, vehicle taxes for two vehicles over five years old and under seven years old at a tax of $ 400 each and $ 190 (50%) of my WASA bill for quarter. One provision would be that vehicles registered with the same residential address as their home would benefit from a 30 percent rebate on the vehicle tax component of their taxes. In my case, my final taxes would be $ 3,250. As I would have received a rebate of $ 240 for my two vehicles whose registration address is the same as my home address.
Essentially, this method of calculating what your taxes would be depends on numbers generated by state agencies such as T & TEC, WASA, and the Department of Public Works and Transportation, are easily referenced, with precisely compiled numbers. It removes the subjectivity from the process implemented by the government and allows for a much more efficient process that can be easily implemented.
While I certainly don’t pretend to be a financial expert in any way, and I don’t expect what I offer to be the most efficient and enjoyable way forward, I think, however, that a solution in this direction presents a welcome simplicity. and the specificity of the process, leaving little room for human judgment, human error or human evil. I will not be proposing something for property taxes for farmland as I see it quite simple and can be easily determined by finding a formula to quantify area per square foot, production levels, access to electricity. and water, and the degree of rurality of the land. With regard to commercial properties, buildings and industrial areas, further deliberation would be needed in this regard.
I hope my suggestions can encourage a more focused debate and resonate more amicably with our now anxious population. May your main goal be God and everything else to be incidental!

—Author Arnold Corneal is a communications specialist


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