Sixty-five percent of all property owners across the country will have to pay more in taxes come April 1.
This, as the new property tax regime announced by Finance Minister, Audley Shaw, in his budget presentation this month will take effect.
The admission comes as several property owners have been complaining on social media about the dramatic increases in their property taxes that will become due on April 1, with the start of the 2017-2018 financial year.
During his budget presentation on March 9, Minister Shaw announced that the new property tax regime will result in more than 200-thousand people paying less.
But in that address to the House of Representatives, he didn’t mention that a significantly larger number of people will end up paying more in property taxes.
However, in an e-mailed response to Nationwide News this morning, Minister Shaw admitted that property taxes are going up for the majority of landowners — 65-percent of them.
He says some people will see larger increases than others. There are growing concerns about the impending increases.
The complaints on social media are increasing.
On Facebook, former Jamaica Labour Party candidate for Eastern St. Thomas, Dr. Patrece Charles, notes that her property tax will move from approximately $55,000 to $169,000.
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, had also expressed concern about the increases in property tax, and how this could negatively affect business.
Some people will see a more than 1000- percent increase in their property taxes.
In his budget presentation, Minister Shaw said 61,000 people will see no change in their property taxes.
However, some 504-thousand property owners will now be facing higher taxes.
The new rate is based on an updated valuation of properties.
Minister Shaw says the government had previously been calculating property tax based on the 2002 value of the property.
It’s now using the 2013 value.
The Finance Minister says property values have ‘escalated sharply’ in the past 15 years.
And, there’s perhaps another important side to this story.
Economist, Dr. Damien King, believes so.
He believes rich people have gotten away with low property taxes for the past 10 years, because the valuations were not updated.
In a post on Twitter this afternoon, Dr. King says those people now finally be paying ‘something meaningful’.
Meanwhile, Minister Shaw says property owners may lodge an objection with the National Land Agency, NLA, if they believe the new valuation is too high.
You’ll have 60 days to launch that objection with the Commissioner of Land Valuations at the NLA.
Some persons can also apply to Tax Administration Jamaica, TAJ, for tax relief.
TAJ’s Director of Communications, Meris Haughton, says pensioners and people with disabilities may qualify for hardship relief.
Lands used for agriculture are also eligible for a 50-percent discount on property tax.
The tax authorities say there are other categories under which persons may apply for tax relief or object to their property valuation.
For example, persons may apply for statutory relief if the value of their residence is inflated because it’s located in a commercial area.
People who’re unemployed may also be eligible for special discretionary relief.
And businesses may also get a 25-percent discount on their income tax, based on the amount of property tax they pay.