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Trinidad and Tobago: New Property Tax

(Feb. 17, 2010) The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago has created a new property tax to replace what were commonly referred to as the “house rates” that had been collected under the authority of the Municipal Corporations Act (Trin. and Tob. Rev. Laws, Ch. 25:04 (2006), as amended). The new tax went into effect at the beginning of 2010 and is assessed on 90% of the annual rental value of the land. The tax rates are three percent for residential property, five percent for commercial property, six percent for plants and machinery, and one percent for agricultural property. There are a number of exclusions to the new tax, including ones for churches, schools, charities, foreign governments, and other properties exempted by declarations issued by the Minister of Finance. (Property Tax, 2009 Trin. and Tob. LAWS, No. 18; for an online version of the law, see Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry of Finance website, Jan. 7, 2010, available at http://www.finance.gov.tt/documents/news/mr1DD567.pdf.)

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has indicated that the new tax was implemented to streamline the collection of property taxes by having it collected by the Inland Revenue Agency instead of by municipal authorities. The Government contends that the tax is in keeping with “international best practice and was arrived at after consultations with several professionals in the field.” (Services, Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry of Finance website, http://
www.finance.gov.tt/services.php?mid=2
(last visited Feb. 16, 2010).) However, the new law was opposed by a group that mounted a petition campaign against it on the grounds that it would punish property owners for realizing their dream. (Sherwyn K, No Property Tax Increase in Trinidad and Tobago, GoPetition website, Sept. 22, 2009, available at http://
gopetition.com/petitions/no-property-tax-increase.html
.)