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Govt needs no special majority

AZARD ALI Friday, May 19 2017

NO special majority is needed in Parliament for Government to implement the property tax. This was the state’s response yesterday to lawsuits filed last week seeking to have the courts strike out the tax legislation. It is a justifiable and long-standing measure of raising revenue, said attorneys acting for the State.

Attorneys from the Attorney General’s office sent the Government’s written response yesterday pointing out that it is not mandatory for a property owner to submit supporting documents such as a deed, certificate of title, land and building tax receipts or utility bills along with his or her annual rental value form.

Of the three lawsuits filed last week Friday in the Hall of Justice, one is a constitutional motion in which Chaguanas resident Lutchmidat Ramcallie, is asking Government to hold its hand on the implementation of the Property Tax Act until the necessary legislative provisions are implemented and before the court determines the lawsuits.

The others are judicial reviews seeking to have the court declare the process which Government is seeking to implement the law is not in accordance with due process. Yesterday, the Attorney General’s office replied to the constitutional motion’s pre-action letter sent by Ramcallie’s attorneys Avory Sinanan SC, Jagdeo Singh, Dinesh Rambally, Larry Lalla and Kelvin Ramkissoon.

Signed by attorney Zelica Haynes-Soo- Hon, the letter from the AG’s office informed Ramcallie’s attorneys that they failed to set out a clear and cogent unconstitutionality of how implementation of the Property Tax infringes on Ramcallie’s fundamental right to enjoyment of property.

Secondly, the AG’s office pointed out that the taxing power of the State under the authority of the legislature, is an integral aspect of modern governance.

Additionally, the assessment of land and building taxes in the form of rental value, is a standard methodology used even prior to 1962 before the country gained independence from Britain.

“The exercise of revenue earning mechanism of the State is a policy- laden governmental decision involving multiple factors including management of limited State resources as well as deference to the expressed will of the legislature,” the AG’s reply stated. The letter informed the attorneys that the Property Tax is now the law of Trinidad and Tobago, and the State will not hold its hand in implementing it while the cases are ventilated in the courts.



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