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Stamp Duties (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2021 #553854
11/10/21 05:28 AM
11/10/21 05:28 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,977
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum, and Mining and the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment hereby inform all lending institutions in Belize and all public officers (permanent establishment, open vote or contract) including personnel of the regional hospitals, police and security forces, as well as teachers from government and grant-aided schools, and employees of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority, that effective 24th September 2021, by virtue of the Stamp Duties (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2021, residential mortgages (to finance the purchase of house and land, house construction, house renovation or the purchase of land for future home construction) by these categories of employees affected by the recent government salary reduction cost-saving measure are exempt from payment of stamp duties chargeable under section 59(1) of the Stamp Duties Act, Chapter 64, Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011.

The exemption will be given to all residential mortgages as well as the variation, assignment, or discharge of a residential mortgage lodged for registration or recording at the Land Registry or Land Titles Unit at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum, and Mining on or after the effective date of the amendment.


Re: Stamp Duties (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2021 [Re: Marty] #554026
11/18/21 06:10 AM
11/18/21 06:10 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,977
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Are Stamp Duties Fair?

And while the court has its interpretation, those who are on the ground dealing with land transactions know that stamp duty evasion is a major means of tax evasion. That's because land sales at a price of lower than 20 thousand dollars do not trigger an obligation to these taxes.

Today, when we asked Senior Counsel Marshalleck if buyers and sellers can understate the value of a property to avoid paying stamp duties, he told us that they would be guilty of an easily detectable fraud. Here's how he explained why:

"Sir, I've heard the opinion that parties intentionally understate the value of the property to avoid paying stamp duties. You've suggested to me that that cannot be the norm."

E. Andrew Marshalleck, SC
"What you describe is a fraud and a crime. You're suggesting to me that the vast majority of Belizeans engaging in land transactions are disposed to committing offenses. I find that hard to believe."

"The vast majority of land deals and believes that we see finance through the banks. There's no way the bank is going to participate in any scheme to undermine the value unless the value of their security. It would undermine their own security interests."

Overcharging On Stamp Duties

And according to Senior Counsel Marshalleck, the Government's zeal to detect possible tax evaders has caused them to implement this policy where the Commissioner of Stamp Duties challenges the stated price of lands being sold.

Here's how he asserted that the case of G A Roe and Sons Limited is not an isolated instance and that other Belizeans have been unfairly overcharged - to the tune of millions of dollars - for stamp duties in connection with their land purchases:

E. Andrew Marshalleck, SC
"Over the last - I'd say - 6 to 8 years, there's been an official policy, no less of revaluing and valuing all transactions with a view to gaining more revenue for the government. It has been an absolutely misguided policy, and it has been informed by the notion which you advanced earlier that the majority of transactions being lodged are somehow being lodged fraudulently at under-values when I don't think that was ever the case. The power of the Commissioner to re-value lands, or to rely on evidence of valuations in order to charge stamp duties has always existed in this country, but it has always been exercised sparingly. Over the last 6-8 years, it has been automatic so that even in the face of a sale by public auction by a bank to a very reputable company, you have revaluations, and it is being treated as if there's not a true reflection of market value in the transaction, which is completely not impugned or unassailed in any way. A straight, above-board transaction and you treat it as if it is an understatement of consideration by some 2 and a half times. I understand that the Government realized 10s of millions of dollars off its practice of re-valuing these instruments for tax purposes, and have benefited handsomely from this practice. It turns out that that practice is unlawful. So, I think the logical question for most Belizeans is whether or not any of this will be returned to them, these monies that were wrongfully taken from them."

"So, you're saying that this opens the door for those other aggrieved parties to question if it happened when that policy was in place?"

E. Andrew Marshalleck, SC
"Well, if taxes are being unlawfully charged and collected, there is no basis for keeping those monies."

Hon Cordel Spoke About Stamps On Uncut

At the end of July, Cordel Hyde, the Minister of Natural Resources, appeared as a guest on Channel 7's Uncut show and issue of stamp duties assessments came up.

Here's an excerpt of their conversation on that topic:

Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources
"You have a stamps commissioner Miss Fairweather that nothing to play with, she is the one who signs off finally on whether your stamp duty will be what you say you paid for the land."

Jules Vasquez, Host, Uncut
"But who has priority, because the lands valuer in the department is the one who approves the value that you may put. But I understand that Miss Noreen, a significant scores of files are backed up on her desk, because she does not agree with what the lands valuer has approved."

Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources
"What happened is that the previous commissioner was in the business of also attaching stamp duty values which he should not have been doing and Noreen and the former commissioner had a clash and she basically said I'm not going to touch those, you can't bring those to me and so we've worked out an agreement with her where the present commissioner who is also a valuer by training."

Jules Vasquez, Host, Uncut
"Which is a conflict of interest, Minister."

Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources
"I wouldn't disagree, but I would say that in this particular case its helpful, because he is able to go through those files and look critically at it and I think Miss Noreen trust his competence and trust his judgement and so she is more willing to look at those and signed off on those. At least that's been the process that we've been working on."

"The stamps commissioner now has her own team of valuers, so she no longer has to rely on the ministry to value these properties."

Jules Vasquez, Host, Uncut
"So who takes precedence? because the chief valuer.... what's happening is that the chief valuers approve value is being disapprove by the commissioner of stamp duty."

Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources
"The commissioner of stamp duties is the person who has the final say. She is the lynch pin there."

Another episode of Uncut will air tonight after our newscast, so be sure to stay tuned in.

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