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Aug 20, 2019

Land Tax Amnesty Only Favorable to Wealthy Landowners?

The House sitting on Friday was chock full of write offs. Aside from debt write-offs, a general pardon has been granted by G.O.B. to a handful of landowners who are considerably behind on land and speculation taxes.  The amnesty, which is the third such exercise since the United Democratic Party took office in 2008, continues to raise the ire of the Opposition since it purportedly favours a majority of the large property owners.  Deputy P.U.P. Leader Cordel Hyde took umbrage with the bill, pointing out that small landowners would not have been afforded a similar opportunity for a tax write-off.

 

Cordel Hyde, Area Representative, Lake Independence

“Dis bill ya have some benefits for small people, but far more benefits for big people.  It’s the big land owners in this country who have not been paying their taxes who have just sat back and waited for these land tax amnesties.  This is the third time the government is doing it since 2010.  They did it in 2010, I think 2013, 2019.  At the last meeting when the prime minister first tabled this bill, he said that there was some ninety million dollars outstanding in taxes, land taxes.  Of that ninety million, thirty big land owners owe half of that amount.  Thirty big land owners owe forty-four million dollars.  Thirty big land owners own a combined five hundred thousand acres of land.  That’s an average of fifteen thousand acres per person.  You see what I’m talking about.  Some of these big land owners own eighty thousand acres, seventy-six thousand acres, thirty thousand acres and then we have a situation where ordinary persons in this country, in Belize City, can’t get a fifty by seventy-five lot.  It’s a very sweet deal because all they do is wait for the land tax amnesty and then they get waiver on the interest, twenty-five percent break on the principal.  The small man can’t get a fifty by seventy-five and when he does get a fifty by seventy-five piece of swamp, if he doesn’t pay his taxes or develop that swamp in three years, ih get tek weh you know.  Tek weh. At the end of the day, this government has done nothing to try to collect the taxes every year, as opposed to just sitting back and waiting for it to accumulate and then come with a land tax amnesty.  They’ve done nothing.  This is an excellent opportunity to reacquire land in lieu of taxes owed, but you refuse to do that.”


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