St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Property tax collection continues to be a challenge for the Inland Revenue Department with the institution unable to collect more than 50% of outstanding fees annually.
Despite this, the institution was performing better than most of its regional counterparts in that area according to Chief Valuation Officer at the Inland Revenue Department, Norvin Rawlins.
“I’m happy to report that last year we had an increase, we’ve been having increases over the years in terms of compliance thanks to these young ladies and the work they do in terms of marketing, but unfortunately though the compliance rate is below fifty percent and we’re doing as much as we can do to educate and sensitize and also to be aggressive of course in our collection methods. On the flip side of that even though is that even though we might be 50 percent, from the conference I went to in St Lucia St Kitts was ranked either second or third in property tax collected per GDP. So even though our collection rates are low all throughout the region we were number two I think in the Caribbean and probably number one I think in 2013 in terms of property tax collected per GDP.”
Speaking on WINN FM’s Breakfast Show Tuesday (May 9), Mr. Norvin added that property tax collection was an issue across the region.
“Property tax throughout the Caribbean is a challenge, I always refer to a conference I went to in St Lucia and compliance in some countries are thirty percent, forty percent, fifty percent and then you have countries like the Bahamas where its eighty percent, but in general in the Caribbean compliance when it comes to property tax it’s an issue. Persons tend to feel that they should be paying for “dirt” and so it’s always a challenge and that is why we are here to sensitize so that we could get our compliance rate up.”
The deadline for paying Property tax each year is June 30th. The Department is hoping to increase collections this year and will be hosting a series of town hall meetings as part of a strategy to do so.
Shanette Shaw is a Senior Tax Inspector with the Inland Revenue Department and was also a guest on the Breakfast Show. She said that most people didn’t pay because they weren’t aware of why they should pay the tax.
“The purpose for these town hall meetings is for four different reasons; to basically educate our taxpayers on the role of the department, and it’s also to show the importance of paying your property tax and other property related issues that they may have, to push voluntary compliance, services available to the taxpayer and also to hear and answer any questions or concerns from all or taxpayers.”
The meetings will run from May 18th – June 20th and will be held at locations around the island. This series will replace a previous effort in which mobile units were used to visit various communities at which persons could pay their property tax and ask the representatives questions. Unlike at the mobile units, however, payments cannot be made at the meetings.
“So we’ve had mobile units before where we usually go into the communities, usually Basseterre, and we let persons come to us and they pay and they ask questions, but everyone is not so open, they don’t want to come out and let everybody see them so this time we are going to them so that’s why we’ve chosen the communities and this time we’re going to them and present to them and then give the opportunity to ask us what is it they want, it’s a personal forum.”
Senior Tax Inspector with the Inland Revenue Department, Shanette Shaw.