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Minister: Squatters to also pay Property Tax
Squatters, other illegal land occupants and people with “less than perfect” property titles will have to pay the upcoming property tax along with other citizens, says Minister in Finance Allyson West.
West confirmed the situation in yesterday’s Senate debate of amendments to the Valuation of Land law.
Debate will follow on amendments to Property Tax law for the tax to be collected.
On concerns about people who hold land certificates, but aren’t owners, West said, “Yes, the intention is that anybody who falls under the definition of owner, whether legal owner or occupier, will have a tax liability.”
“It doesn’t matter that you’re not the legal owner of the land or (you are) a squatter, as someone occupying property, you’re also enjoying the benefits of services provided by the regional corporations of the State.
“Why should you, because you’re illegally occupying land or because you’re occupying land under a less than perfect title, why should you not contribute to payment for those services? That’s Government’s position. We’re intending to assess properties like that to tax and to collect taxes from people in that area. I’ll deal with that when I come to the Property Tax Legislation.”
In an upcoming debate on the Property Tax, West said she’d also detail how the system will work for squatters who have certificates of comfort and those who don’t.
West assured upcoming land valuations won’t be bad and the property tax— based on annual rental value—won’t be high, I feel the annual rentable values won’t be unreasonable.”
She said concerns that elderly people wouldn’t be able to afford the tax were unfounded, also since the legislation provides relief for those unable to pay. West said her recent quote on increase of fines for non-submission of valuation forms—that “$500 was nothing”—was meant in the context that people often pay high prices for Carnival fetes and costumes.
“I’m not saying ($500) isn’t a lot, but it’s not enough of a deterrent on non-submission,” she added.
West said Government had heard other senators’ concerns on the minister’s power to appoint a tribunal—to hear objections to valuations and the tax—and amendments were being proposed on this.
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