NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A group of condo owners are challenging property taxes that have nearly doubled the rate on their homes from a year ago.
The sharp increase is believed to have followed a recent appraisal by the Department of Finance, which valued the properties at nearly twice their estimated value prepared by certified independent appraisers.
In a letter to the Department of Finance’s Director of Assessment, dated March 8, 2022, a landlord of an apartment complex on Paradise Island wrote on behalf of the eight landlords, advising them that the individual landlords had received property tax bills for 2022 showing an “inflated estimated value of over $1 million”, representing a 179% increase from the 2021 assessment.
… In my humble opinion, it appears to be a direct attack on the middle class citizens of this county to eliminate this class – BAHAMIAN HOMEOWNER
For the condominium unit specifically, the Department of Inland Revenue assessed the property in 2021 at just over $388,000.
He assessed the value of the same house in 2022 at just under $1.1 million, a difference of $700,000.
In support of the property tax survey form, objecting to the massive increase, the owner has attached an independent appraisal and inspection report, dated March 1, 2022, and carried out by a licensed appraiser and Consulting Architect, recommended by all Banks and Mortgages Co.
A Paradise Island resort owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was shocked that the government had more than doubled the value of her property in its assessment, and said the move represented a ” direct attack on middle class Bahamians”.
According to the owner, the most recent appraisal of one of the homes in the complex by a reputable company was around $500,000.
“Therefore, in my humble opinion, it appears to be a direct attack on the middle class citizens of this county to eliminate this class,” the owner said.
“When I spoke to a government official at the Inland Revenue on Friday I was advised that when the government does an assessment of a property they are very unlikely to reduce that figure even when it features lower valuations by reputable appraisers.”
The owner added that many owners of Paradise Island are also opposed to the increase in the assessments of their properties.
A well-placed source in the former administration said that while property tax increases can be based on a number of variables, including correcting an under-assessment, any increase over 10% in one year “is simply unfair to the taxpayer”.
Calls made to key Finance Ministry officials were not returned.
“What is our government trying to do to Bahamians? said another owner.
“Instead of entertaining foreigners at the expense of taxpayers, our government should put Bahamians first and not waste money and then try to raise our taxes.
“I am a Bahamian trying to live a simple life and would like to enjoy my later years and not be financially burdened and oppressed by a government of the day at will.”