Saturday, Oct 19, 2019
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More anti-Bahamian tax measures

Dear Editor,

The FNM continues apace with its policy of maximizing tax pressures on the indigenous Bahamian population while exempting wealthy foreigners from any similar pressure wherever possible.

A previous government (doubtless motivated by the simple calculus that the country’s orderly development benefits from tax policies that favor locals and bring in foreign-generated revenues) exempted Bahamians in the Out Islands from real property taxes. This pro-Bahamian concession would balance the perception of foreigners buying up all the prime land in the islands. It was a good idea.

Unfortunately, however, successive governments have virtually ignored large scale tax delinquency by foreigners in the Family Islands, to the point that, today, hundreds of millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars of unpaid real property taxes in the Family Islands remain outstanding. It hardly makes the news.

In fact, real property tax is essentially a voluntary tax in the case of foreign owners who are unmotivated to sell, since government only compels payment at the point of transfer. Even where they do sell, the tax charge acts as a disincentive to buyers by adding to the price tag of delinquent properties. Unlike in the homelands of these very foreigners, our government has proved unwilling to seize and resell tax-delinquent foreign-owned properties – although it would obviously boost the real estate industry if they did.

Enter Minnis and crew. Faced with a desire to increase real property tax contributions to the Consolidated Fund, do they try and collect the rich, low-hanging fruit of delinquent foreign-owned Family Island real estate (including private islands)? No. They turn their attentions exclusively to New Providence, where they can pressure Bahamian property owners with all of the sanctions at their disposal, while ignoring the Family Islands, which offer an opportunity to maximize foreign-generated revenues while sparing the average Bahamian taxpayer.

There is a disturbing pattern behind this FNM government.

– Amazed as Always

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