Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Commercial property owners still uncomfortable with increases

Published:Thursday | May 4, 2017 | 5:02 AMJovan Johnson
Wint
Robinson
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Commercial property owners are still uncomfortable with the levels of increase in the rates used to calculate their tax, but there is no call for a further revision to the new regime, the Realtors' Association of Jamaica has said.

The realtors and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) - the two main interest groups that spoke out against the system - have reported that their members are still assessing the lowered rates that Finance Minister Audley Shaw announced after the ones he outlined in March sparked significant backlash.

The March 9 rates ranged from 0.8 per cent to 1.3 per cent of the unimproved valued of lands determined by a 2013 valuation. But on April 11, Shaw told Parliament that the Government was adjusting the rates downwards to range from 0.5 per cent to 0.9 per cent spread across eight bands.

JHTA head Omar Robinson has said that the rates could still be high for some of his members, but he was awaiting their responses to form an official position.

 

NO 'TENSION'

 

Edwin Wint, president of the Realtors' Association, said there was no 'tension' among residential landowners, but in the commercial sector, "yes, there's still some concern there".

"Overall, there is not as much anxiety in the residential sector, which affects everybody's household," he told The Gleaner. "I'm not hearing where there is going to be any strong pressure groups taking it any further. I think everybody is trying to absorb and see exactly how it pans out."

Prior to the revision of the March 9 rates, some owners had reported more than 1,000 per cent hikes in their property taxes. Shaw has said that 61 per cent of the more than 600,000 property owners would see an increase of "no more than 15 per cent" compared with what they paid last year. Average increase for commercial property owners would be about 58 per cent.

But he admitted that 6,848 properties, mainly commercial and agricultural, with values of ore than $20 million, would see an average increase ranging from 201 per cent to 604 per cent.

The revision has left a gap of $2.1 billion in government revenue.