BREA calls on government to drop property tax reassessment over alleged illegality – Eye Witness News

Department of Inland Revenue defends land reassessment exercise and denies claim

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) yesterday challenged the legality of the Department of Inland Revenue’s reassessment exercise, with the latter noting that 10,000 previously unregistered properties have now been accurately assessed and registered.

BREA is calling on the government to immediately withdraw its 2022 property tax assessment, citing that its assessors were not duly licensed under the law.

In a statement yesterday, BREA praised the Department of Inland Revenue for the purchase and implementation of Tyler Technology’s tax assessment software, but took issue with comments made by the company’s vice president, Jake Wilson, who confirmed that the company had also been selected to provide valuation services.

The BREA pointed to the Real Estate (Brokers and Salespersons) Act 1995, which prohibits anyone from carrying on real estate business, including undertaking appraisals, without a valid license issued under the Act.

“By law, only a Bahamian citizen or the holder of a Certificate of Permanent Residence with the right to work on it can obtain a license to practice real estate,” the BREA statement said.

“At no time did Tyler submit to BREA any license application(s) for its appraisers under their contract with the government. BREA did not grant any appraiser license to Tyler or to his staff.Based on the evidence in Tyler’s press release, Tyler admitted that he had been hired by the government to provide valuation services to the government on two occasions.

BREA added that appraisal services provided by Tyler were illegal without a valid license and, by extension, any reappraised property value undertaken by an unauthorized representative of Tyler should therefore be considered illegal and void at law.

He added: “Under the circumstances and on behalf of the residents of The Bahamas, BREA calls upon the government to immediately withdraw its 2022 property tax assessment.”

However, in a statement responding to BREA’s claims, the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) said the new property tax bills reflect property assessments based on a reassessment exercise conducted by the DIR, supported by Tyler Technologies.

“The DIR wishes to assure the Bahamian public that the property reappraisals have been expertly conducted and based on thousands of field inspections and data analysis while leveraging the latest technology and global best practices. “, reads the press release.

“The objective of the valuation exercise was to ensure that all properties reflect current value for tax purposes. The result of this exercise has been a broadening of the tax base and potential increase in revenue, with 10,000 previously unregistered properties now properly assessed and registered. Through this broadening of the tax base, the government believes it is moving towards fairer and more equitable taxation in an area that has been marked by strong inequalities,” said the DIR.

He added: “The DIR has been made aware of concerns about the legality of the revaluation process, expressly that the Real Estate (Brokers and Salespersons) Act 1995 (“Act”) would prohibit non-Bahamian citizens or those who do not do not have a work permit to engage in the practice of real estate, including conducting appraisals.

The DIR pointed out that the Real Property Tax Act, 2010 vests authority for property valuations for tax purposes in the Chief Valuation Officer (CVO), adding that no such ban on citizenship or work permits can be found in the law.

“The Director of Valuation (CVO) has the power to obtain information from any person that is relevant to the accurate valuation of property by the CVO under the law. The power of the CVO to value properties for tax purposes is not subject to and is entirely independent of the provisions of the Real Estate (Brokers and Salesmen) Act 1995,” the DIR said.

According to the DIR, for years failure to engage in regular valuation exercises meant that people who built new homes but did not register them paid no taxes. In many cases, the DIR said people with high-value properties were paying far less than their fair share of taxes while others were compliant.