KINGSTON – One of the Caribbean’s and the world’s most popular tourist destinations – is Jamaica’s largest parish.
Lying in the tourist belt along Jamaica’s northern coastline, property values in St. Ann run very high.
It could be expected, therefore, that property tax evaluation and subsequent collection in the parish would be among the highest island wide.
However, the arrears for property tax collection in St. Ann has almost tripled in six years, moving from $40.2 million per year in 2006/2007 to $111.2 million in 2012/2013, for an overall arrears total of $494.3 million over the period. St. Ann has the sixth-highest arrears of all parishes.
There is so much that $494 million could do for a parish council, burdened with the responsibility to provide proper garbage collection, street lighting, and water in some instances.
For the 2013/2014 financial year, the property tax collection target for St. Ann is $552.7 million, with over $243.9 already collected over the period April to July.
Property tax is a charge levied on all properties in Jamaica, and should be paid by the owner, occupier, mortgagee or other person in possession of such property.
The tax is calculated on the unimproved value of the property, that is, on the land itself, and not on the value of buildings that may be on it.
The tax is calculated at a flat rate of $1,000 for properties valued up to $100,000. Properties valued over $100,000, but less than $1,000,000, attract an additional 1.5 per cent for each dollar above $100,000. Properties valued over $1 million attract a 2.0 per cent tax for each additional dollar.
Despite the climbing arrears figure, mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Desmond Gilmore believes that persons are not really objecting to paying property taxes.
“I don’t believe that people don’t really want to pay taxes, they just want to know that they are getting the services that the taxes are meant to provide,” said Gilmore. “If they get the services, I don’t believe they will have a problem paying the taxes.” (Gleaner)