Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
THE MANCHESTER Parish Council (MPC) has said it is on track in realising its 2013-2014 financial year target for property tax.
The target set is $904 million. For the first quarter of the new financial year, April to June 2013, the parish council has so far collected $346 million, accounting for 38 per cent of its target.
David Harris, director of finance at the MPC, said the revenue collected for the first quarter of this financial year far exceeds the $271 million collected for the 2012-2013 financial year.
Christopher Powell, secretary manager of the MPC, said funds received from property tax collection are used for the payment of street lights and solid-waste collection for the parish. He said approximately 10 per cent of the collection was used to pay for administrative support services and for the beautification programmes across the parish.
While there has been some improvements in property tax payments, the parish has had one of the poorest records over the years. According to information gleaned from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development's website, the parish owes over $1 billion in arrears.
Mayor Brenda Ramsay is confident that property tax collection will continue to improve going forward.
"As you know, there has been an increase in the rate in the current fiscal year, and you know, as a culture, we don't like to pay taxes; however, we have had some extraordinary input made to see if we could realise our targets for this year."
In outlining some of the measures put in place by the MPC, Powell said, "The council continues to aggressively pursue delinquent property taxpayers using its compliance officers based at the Inland Revenue Department.
"We also employ property tax customer-service clerks that are based in the Inland Revenue Department to assist members of the public with property tax-related information."
The secretary manager added: "During the first quarter, the council employed individuals in the 15 divisions of the parish to conduct delivery of property tax notices to residential and commercial taxpayers. This initiative was successful and will be repeated in the future. The council recently has been utilising the geographic information system to locate difficult-to-find properties in the parish. This system has given significant assistance to the compliance team."
Property tax is a charge levied on all properties in Jamaica which should be paid by the owner, occupier, mortgagee, or other persons in possession of such property.
The tax is calculated on the value of the land itself.
Payment can be made online or at tax offices located islandwide by using cash, debit, or credit cards. Payments made after April 30 of each year are considered late and attract a 10 per cent penalty. Failure to pay 30 days after April 30 attracts 15 per cent interest per year.