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BREA chief weighs in on real property tax

Questions surrounding real property tax as it relates to the value of properties have caught the attention of the president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association(BREA)Patty Birch. According to her property owners who feel that their homes are overvalued, therefore impacting the amount of real property tax they are required to pay, have the right to appeal the appraisal. Birch toldGuardian Businessyesterday that property owners have the ability to challenge any assessment given to them if they feel that it’s inaccurate, an option she said most individuals are not aware of.”I think there is recourse under law when you feel that your property is overassessed, but I don’t know how many people have taken that up,”Birch said.”They can appeal to the chief valuation officer within so many days of receiving their notice, and they can also present their case(in terms of)why they feel that the valuation given to their property is not correct.”With Bahamians concerned about being forced to pay a tax on their property during a time when it may not be worth as much compared to when economic conditions were better, it has been a topic of discussion that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham weighed on last week Thursday when asked about it.”We’ve had many complaints of where property tax assessment are,”Ingraham said during a radio interview last week.”The real property tax authorities are not a law unto themselves, so people who feel that they have received a assessment that is wrong have every right to make representation so the matter can be reviewed and determinations made.”According to Section 13 of the Real Property Tax Ammendment, it states”Any person aggrieved by the decision of the chief valuation officer upon an objection may, within thirty days after the service of notice of the decision, in writing require the chief valuation officer to refer the decision to the Tribunal for review of the assessment on appeal.”Birch said that since assessment isn’t done on an annual basis, a person’s property is assessed based on when their last valuation was done, which could have been during a pre-recession period. The Real Property Tax Ammendment states that reassessments should be done by the chief valuation officer”from time to time, but not more than once every five years.”She stressed that property owners should exercise their rights.”It may be that property was assessed during a booming time, and recent market sales show that your property is not valued at that now,”Birch said.”[But]you can present a case and make a claim to the chief valuation officer showing your facts of why you think that it’s overvalued.”

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