When conducting land transactions in Jamaica, such as the sale of property; transfer of property; first registration of land; and the subdivision of land, a certificate of payment of taxes is required by the Stamp Office or the Parish Council. Many persons are not cognizant of the penalties or the procedure to pay their property taxes. This week, we will examine some key points on this topic.
What you should know about property taxes
All residential and commercial properties are subject to tax in Jamaica. Property Tax is a tax levied on property owners to provide revenue for the provision of public & community amenities provided by the local government. It is charged on the unimproved value of the land.
The Property Tax Act gives the government the authority to charge property tax on all property in Jamaica. All property tax collected is required to be credited to the Parochial Revenue Fund, which is to be used by the government for the general maintenance of the parochial road network, including but not limited to, repairing damaged parochial roads, street lightening and garbage collection.
How to pay your property taxes
Property taxes are due annually at the beginning of each fiscal year. Payments can be made at tax offices island wide or online at www.jamaicatax.gov.jm/property-tax-query. Property owners have the right to pay in instalments (quarterly, half-yearly or in full). Quarterly by end of April, July, October or January. Half-yearly deadlines are by end of July and by end of January. The yearly deadline is by end April.
Property owners in Jamaica or overseas can now conveniently go online and check the status of their outstanding property taxes, once they have their valuation number and can access the E-payment portal. The E-payment portal accepts payment by credit cards.
Numerous persons have been brought before the Tax Court in the Parish Court for failure to pay outstanding property taxes. Under the Tax Collection Act, the tax collector may issue summonses for arrears and penalties owed, if persons fail to attend Court, a Warrant of Disobedience may result, where persons may be imprisoned for up to three (3) months or an Ex Parte order can be made.
Additionally, a caveat can be placed on the property which blocks the owner from transacting any business with the property (e.g. you will not be able to sell your property or even use same as collateral for bank loans etc.). The property can also be seized and sold to recover property taxes owed.
Failure to pay property tax on the date it becomes due will result in a penalty of 10% per annum, which will be added to the outstanding property tax.
Properties Exempt from Paying Taxes
The Property Tax Act provides exemptions for certain types of property including; buildings used for religious purposes, schools and hospitals etc.
Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)