Land Tax Amnesty Debated in Senate
The senate met in its final session for this five-year term this morning.† Parliamentarians in the upper house bade farewell to each other and President Darrell Bradley, as there is no certainty who will be returning in that capacity following general elections in November.† While the atmosphere was lighthearted, the issue of the Land Tax Amendment Bill raised a few objections from several senators, including Mark Lizarraga, who did not support the idea of providing tax relief for land owners who are speculating or habitually delinquent in their payments.
Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator
ďI totally understand and agree with the concept of lending and rendering relief to those people that have suffered destruction, that have suffered economic hardships because they were working the land and there was a drought, crops have been destroyed or they may have suffered economic hardships because of the COVID situation.† So they could have lost or are losing because of the lack of opportunity either to sell crops or market conditions, I totally understand that and support it.† And if this were intended to just lend relief to those people that have received hardship or going through hardships and certainly the productive sector, the agricultural sector, I would totally, totally support it. But what we absolutely cannot condone is the consistent relief to those who hold thousands and thousands of acres of non-productive land in this country and they continue to get relief from this tax burden.† The government needs revenue.Ē
Clarity on Land Tax Amendment Bill
In clarifying the purpose of the Land Tax Amendment Bill, Senator Mike Peyrefitte responded to the statement that the revised piece of legislation will only benefit wealthy land owners who simply choose not to pay their taxes.† The law, he says, ties the ministerís hands, preventing discretion to be used willfully, except in cases where destruction is the result of natural disasters.
Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator
ďThis bill does not give carte blanch authority to the minister to remit land taxes or interest on land taxes.† As I understood him correctly, you donít want the government to forgive land taxes and interest for people who donít pay their land tax?† In short then, you donít want ih give it to just any and anybody, but this bill doesnít allow the minister to do that.† This bill puts the minister in a box.† The minister may remit taxes in whole or in part, including any arrears or interest in any disaster as follows: a hurricane, other acts of God, invasion, civil commotion, fire or other occurrence and by that, when you mean other occurrence it is to be read, help me out senior counsel, as they say in law, Öin relation to what has been mentioned before, it has to be an act of God.† So you canít burn down your own house and say I need tax relief because my house ketch fire, no.† It has to be something that was beyond your control that caused destruction to your property that produces crops or to your crops at your dwelling.† In those cases, the minister can use his or her discretion to say, look this person is owed land taxes but given what has happened which is beyond that personís control, the minister can use his discretion to say, look, you donít owe any land taxes for the next year or two.Ē