The Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has issued a stern warning to “chronic” land tax defaulters that their properties could be put up for sale from as early as July this year.
Acting Revenue Commissioner Wayne Forde issued the caution today, while revealing that persons were going to great lengths to avoid meeting their financial obligations to the state.
He explained that since September last year, 5,125 land tax bills and other pieces of undelivered mail were returned by the post office to BRA, mainly due to incorrect addresses.
In fact, in over 1,000 of those cases, the addresses given were those of deceased persons. In addition, there were 513 bills with overseas addresses that were never collected.
“In a lot of cases we realize that a lot of people who have their notices returned have been in arrears for quite a while. We will try our best in all cases to alleviate the situation but if it comes to that, we will be putting up a series of properties for sale to recover those monies. So by July you might see publication of a lot of properties that have fallen south of what is expected,” Forde told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a BRA tax fair in Heroes Square, The City.
The acting Revenue Commissioner explained that while law allows for BRA to seize properties that are 90 days in arrears, their immediate focus would be on those persons who were owing between five to 20 years of taxes.
“The law states that if you are in arrears for 90 days you are eligible to have your property sold. Now you know that 90 days is a short time even though it is the law, so it is not feasible to sell persons’ properties in that period because anything could have happened. However, there are persons who have been in arrears for 20 years and what these persons do when we realize that they are in arrears and we try to contact them, they come in sometimes and pay a little bit just to get us off their backs and then they go back to their old ways. Those are the persons who I deem as chronic defaulters and they are the ones that we will be targeting,” Forde stressed.
The umbrella revenue collection agency was formed back in 2014 out of an amalgamation of the operations of the Inland Revenue, Land Tax and the Value Added Tax divisions, with the process for incorporating the Customs and Excise Department still be finalized.
However, Forde pointed that each of these agencies brought their own delinquencies with them to BRA, which proved challenging for the umbrella body.
“This is one of the problems that has plagued us and the reason that it has plagued us is because the three legacy agencies brought their delinquencies with them.
“Now in some cases it is fairly easy to recover, especially if you are active, but property is one of those ones where the lean is not on the person but on the property.
“With income tax defaulters the person may have left the jurisdiction, but I don’t know of anyone who was able to take land and take it overseas. So the land is there for us to recover and we intend to use that mechanism,” he warned.