The government’s real property tax (RPT) modernization project has thus far assessed appraised dwellings worth $160 million; the RPT revenue from these properties will be added to the tax roll next year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said last week, adding that 20 percent of New Providence has already been assessed.
Turnquest, who made his remarks at the 8th Annual Caribbean Valuation and Construction Conference on Thursday last week, explained that 16,000 properties have been assessed so far and the project is on target to meet its 18-month completion deadline.
“We are committed to an agenda of modernization and digitization, starting with our largest tax collection agency, where RPT is administered,” Turnquest said.
“In The Bahamas we are working with Tyler Technologies, one of the largest and most established international providers of integrated software and technology services focused on the public sector. They are specialists in the field of mass appraisals and technology-driven tax solutions.
“To achieve this 18-month deadline, Tyler engaged dozens of Bahamians to implement the work, some 37 to date. These Bahamians are being uniquely exposed to and trained in specialized skills that are in global demand.”
According to Turnquest, RPT could bring in $131 million in revenue this fiscal year, representing six percent of total annual revenue. He added that the changes being made to RPT could add $21 million to annual tax revenue.
“Property taxation plays an essential role in financing the cost of government,” he said.
Turnquest said the modernization of RPT will be advantageous for the country’s ease of doing business ranking. The country’s ranking took a hit this year, partly because of the country’s RPT system.
“I can assure you the private sector has long awaited the government to undertake this work in earnest,” Turnquest said.
“The government is committed to transforming its RPT system into a model example for the region.
“This is only one area important to the valuation, management and development of real estate, but it is a critical area. The Bahamas still has a lot of work to do, but we are on an aggressive path forward and I hope you might find some encouraging lessons from our example. We are working to keep pace with the private sector in promoting and enforcing the highest international standards.”