Tue | Nov 13, 2018

Farmers missing out on land tax relief

Published:Saturday | March 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Donovan Stanberry

Persons who can benefit from a 50 per cent discount on property tax for land used primarily for agriculture have been unable to access this benefit available under the Land Taxation Relief Act for more than a year now. This is because the Land Taxation Relief Board, which vets applications submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, has not been in operation since the end of 2016.

Michael Price, director of agricultural marketing information, who represented the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries on the last Land Taxation Relief Board, could not provide an update on its status.

"The committee came to an end at the end of 2016, and I don't' know what has happened since then because nobody has contacted me," Price told The Gleaner. "I don't know if the PS (Permanent Secretary Donovan Stanberry) has been contacted. He had asked me to represent the ministry, and I think I was doing a good job, but I don't know where it (the committee) has gone. I don't know who the leadership is, and I don't know if the committee is in place," added Price.

However, Stanberry was just as clueless about the current status of the board.

"I'm not sure what is happening with it, you know," he admitted. "Isn't the provision still in place? Remember, it's a Ministry of Finance thing, you know.

"I know there was a system by law where people used to get relief from property tax if their agricultural holdings were in production and there was a committee. I don't know if that was done away with. I suspect it's not because it was a legislative provision, not discretionary.

Stanberry then directed The Gleaner to check with Pamella Folkes at the Finance Ministry as well as the director of land valuation at the National Land Agency's office on Ardenne Road in St Andrew. However, calls to both state agencies proved futile.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com