DEVASTATING: BCCEC warns of up to 500% property tax hikes in reassessment exercise

DEVASTATING: BCCEC warns of up to 500% property tax hikes in reassessment exercise

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday warned that real property tax increases as high as 500 percent could devastatingly impact businesses and employers, particularly in an economic downturn.

In a statement, the BCCEC urged the government to consider a glide path approach to implementing the changes prompted by the property re-assessments in order to lessen the “tax price shock and economic strain on taxpayers”.

The confederation explained the property reassessment exercise has resulted in a higher valuation of some properties and consequently an increase in the invoice amount compared to the previous tax year. 

“In some cases, businesses and employers have found the dollar value increase significant and shocking,” the statement read.

“The BCCEC urges the Government to consider the impact of Hurricane Dorian and the Covid-19 Pandemic on the business community and employers in The Bahamas. In this case, due to the protracted time between previous assessments, which is not the fault of property owners, the re-assessed taxed amounts have amounted to increases between 0 – 500 percent due to the appreciation of property values during the time between assessments. For example, some property owners have reported tax increases of between 100 percent – 435 percent from the previous year.”

The Department of Inland Revenue noted yesterday that as the government pursues opportunities for improved revenue mobilization, residential and commercial property owners in New Providence may be seeing changes to their real property tax bills due to the recently completed valuation exercise for properties on the island. 

“The objective of the valuation exercise was to ensure that the taxes paid, reflect the current market value of properties,” the department said.

“The end result of this exercise was a broadening of the tax base and an increase in revenues with 10,000 previously unregistered properties now accurately assessed and registered.

“Through this broadening of the base, the government believes that it is moving towards a fairer and more equitable tax system in an area that has been marked by substantial inequality,” the DIR added.