The government of Belize tabled one new Bill, the Land Tax Partial Remission of Arrears Bill, at last Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
The approach first offers land owners an amnesty on land taxes for six months, and then forgives some of the taxes owed, as an incentive for landowners to bring their accounts up to date.
Minister of Natural Resources Gaspar Vega introduced the Bill, “In the face of the global economic crisis”, and remarked that governments around the world are looking for ways to enhance revenue collection to meet the cost of quality goods and services for their citizens. ...
“This bill will afford landowners the opportunity of the waiver on one- third of their outstanding tax plus any interest and penalties that may be due.”
Ministry of Natural Resources CEO, Beverly Castillo, said some $48 million is owed to GOB for land tax. With the new law, the government would forego one third of this amount, in order to bring about a manageable tax regime.
Exactly how much money the government would write off will depend on how many landowners actually take advantage of the incentive that the amnesty is providing, she said.
With respect to mechanisms to collect and enforce the collection of its land taxes, Castillo said, “Nothing was active in the Ministry of Natural Resources. This is the first step toward restructuring the entire system that has not really been working for more than 10 years.
“The system has broken down over time, and an amnesty is a soft approach to fixing it,” she said.