The Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) is expected to take a sizable bite out of its real property tax (RPT) arrears portfolio as banks prepare to remit their mortgagers’ RPT in order to bring those accounts current, Acting Comptroller of the Department of Inland Revenue Shunda Strachan said Monday.
Strachan was a guest on Morning Blend Business on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM, when she revealed that the “time line has expired” for commercial banks that were updating their information on their clients’ RPT standing.
She explained that DIR could begin to see some movement from banks as soon as next week.
Strachan said the DIR has had productive conversations with commercial banks and expects that arrears for owner-occupied properties that meet the criteria will be settled.
“We have gone to the lenders and the mortgagees and we have said to them ‘okay, you really should be helping us by paying the tax or causing the tax to be paid’,”said Strachan.
“So we’ve had a discussion with the banks, of course they were challenged in that they don’t know all of their assessment numbers, so we have been going through a process of providing them as much as we can.
“We’ve been providing tax certificates and we expect that the banks will settle those tax arrears that have been building on the properties for which they are holding as collateral, bearing in mind that the government has first charge of all properties. So, I’m sure that the bank want to safeguard their security.”
Strachan added that properties that have been in arrears for a number of years, and which may not still be under a mortgage, will in a “couple of days” be handed over to a collections agency to handle the payment of the arrears.
She contended that it is in the best interest of Bahamians who owe RPT to come into the DIR to settle that debt through payment plans or whatever settlement arrangement can be made.
During a press conference held by the DIR recently, Strachan said the department is prepared to garnish the wages, revenues and bank accounts of any taxpayer who has the means to pay the taxes they owe to the government, but who fails to pay anyway.
She explained, though, that her department is first prepared to work with taxpayers before engaging such measures.