Former Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday insisted that the The Bahamas’ collection of real property tax (RPT) and other taxes must become as efficient and dispassionate as that of the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Turnquest suggested, therefore, that the government “enforce the existing collection laws with certainty of timelines and commitment”.
“The existing RPT law gives the chief valuation officer wide powers to collect RPT or to obtain liens and to satisfy the same in accordance with law,” Turnquest said.
“I contend that the legal ability to collect the RPT has never been in doubt. What is in doubt and has been the issue is the certainty of action and commitment to collect the tax.
“I’ve experienced it myself and had to fight through some interference to do what is right for the wider majority of taxpayers who fulfill their obligation to the state, without incentive I might add.”
Turnquest also criticized the Business License (Amendment) Bill, 2021, indicating that its proposed changes to the Business License Act are unfair to tenants.
He said the bill passes on the responsibility of a landlord to pay his real property tax to the tenant of his property, something Turnquest said cuts “against the fairness principle”.
“The bill seems to pass the responsibility for real property tax delinquency to the tenant versus the actual owner of the rental property, under penalty of law,” he said.
“The bill goes so far in Clause 2 (b)(6A) to state that a tenant can be denied a license if his landlord does not maintain current his RPT and in clause 6H speaks about cancellation of a license if agreed payment arrangements are not maintained. This cannot be right and what is intended.”
Turnquest suggested government amend the RPT Act to require anyone with a mortgage to collect the tax in escrow to be paid to the Treasury.