Bar threatens court action over tax
The Barbados Bar Association is threatening to take the Government to court over the new Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
The association is objecting to what it said was an informally notified policy decision taken by the Barbados Revenue Authority to link the issuing of land tax certificates to the full payment of the tax.
President of the Bar Tariq Kahn said such a position had no legal ground. As a result, the Association has written the Chairman of the Authority cautioning that if it did not get a response to its concerns by the July 28 deadline for payment of the municipal levy, the Association will take the matter to the Supreme Court.
“As the issuance of the land tax certificates under the LTA (Land Tax Act) has a crucial impact on the timing of completion of property matters, we would appreciate having your response at your very earliest convenience. “Should we not hear from you by July 28, 2014, the Barbados Bar Association, as an interested property owner itself, is prepared to apply to the High Court for a declaration that the withholding of land tax certificates for any reason other than non-payment of land tax under the LTA, is ultra vires, and for an order of mandamus to secure the issuance of certificates once the land tax is paid,” stated Kahn.
The contentious policy, according to the association president, is that land tax certificates verifying the payment of land tax, would only be issued when the Municipal tax was paid in full.
“It is our understanding that the reason given for this stance is that the Municipal Solid Waste Tax is regarded as a lien over the property concerned,” he said.
But he said when the Bar reviewed both Acts, including the subsidiary legislations, it could not find any legal connection between the two separate taxes.
“Nor do we interpret any part of the LTA to say that the issuing of a land tax certificate confirming the payment of land tax depends on any other taxes being paid,” he added.
The Bar head also argued that the Land Tax Act provided that a valid certificate issued by the Commissioner certifying that all tax due on the land has been paid or that no tax is due on the land, is required in order complete the conveyance and certain lease processes.
Kahn also contended that in contrast to the LTA, the Municipal Solid Waste Tax Act does not state that the solid waste duty was a charge or lien on property.
“And so it does not seem that unpaid solid waste tax can have effect or otherwise prejudice a property owner’s rights to deal with his property in accordance with the LTA or any other legislation,” reasoned the Bar president.
The Association also wants to know if the tax is not yet payable, then how can a certificate be withheld for non-payment.