M&CC owed over $2B in property taxes

–  threatens disclosure of delinquent taxpayers

The Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is threatening to publish the names of those delinquent companies and individuals with outstanding tax payments to the Council.
In a statement on Thursday, the M&CC expressed its concern that several businesses within the capital city continues to disregard their civic obligation to ensure the payment of their property taxes.
Despite the Council recently winning some $300 million in judgement against some businesses for failing to honour their responsibilities, the Council said it was still experiencing immense difficulty in getting property owners to pay their dues to the Georgetown municipality.
“Council is owed more than $2 billion in property taxes,” the statement revealed.
M&CC Public Relations Officer Debra Lewis explained that this sum has accumulated over long periods of time since persons have blatantly disregarded the law.
“The Council intends to pursue all legal options available to the municipality through the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01,” she stated, adding that this would include “parate execution”, which is a debt recovery process under the law. This procedure is special to banks as it allows the resale of property mortgaged to the bank. The mortgage is organised without going through court proceedings and the institution itself is given the power to hold an auction for the sale of the property by the appointed auctioneer.
According to Lewis, “some businesses have seemingly divorced themselves from their obligations and it is highly regrettable that it must reach to this stage.”
Moreover, the Council said it was also working feverishly to have proper valuation and re-valuations so that the sums property owners pay reflect the true value of their property.
The Valuation Department under the direction of the Finance Ministry has oversight for these valuations of properties. It is noticed, however, that even when properties are sent to the office for valuation or revaluation from the Treasurer’s Department, “they are subjected to certain delays”. The last valuation of properties in the city was done in 1997.
The M&CC has long been battling with taxpayers who default on paying their rates and taxes with some property owners owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Council revealed in September last year that about 300 businesses were in default.
In light of this dilemma, the Georgetown M&CC offered delinquent taxpayers waivers on interest through a one-month amnesty exercise. This programme saw residential property owners receiving total amnesty on interest, while companies and businesses had to apply to the Council for between 50 per cent and 75 per cent amnesty on interest.
A special committee was appointed by the Council to oversee the affairs of the amnesty project.