By Elias Hazou
AUTHORITIES are scrambling to make arrangements allowing people access to detailed statements on their immovable property for the purpose of paying tax.
In the past few days, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has been inundated with complaints concerning the calculation of Immovable Property Tax (IPT).
Registered owners of property, including those owning more than one property, have received in the mail a statement indicating the lump-sum value of their properties and the tax due.
Currently, the statement features no breakdown of individual properties and the respective taxes, so people disagreeing with the tax charged lack the necessary information to challenge the amount.
Many of the complaints are coming from people whose properties were recently re-estimated.
The IRD has promised that as of next week it will be providing printouts of detailed immovable property tax statements.
“We can’t print out detailed statements for some 450,000 registered owners and mail them, that’s neither practical nor feasible at this time,” said IRD director George Poufos.
Those requesting printouts of detailed statements need to visit the IRD and bring their ID card for verification.
The IRD will print out detailed statements on request, but there must be a “valid reason” for the request, such as to contest the taxable amount.
“We won’t be printing these statements by default,” Poufos added.
The IRD has in electronic form the property data requested from the land registry department. But according to a senior IRD officer, the data is ‘raw’ and needs to be converted into an easily readable format.
The government’s Department of Information Technology Services is working on a software solution, but it would take time, she said.
Poufos told the Mail that one idea under “serious consideration” was to upload the data to JCC’s portal for online bill payments. Those with a JCC smart number would navigate to www.jccsmart.com, click on the icon for the Inland Revenue Department and login.
A link there would then display the user’s detailed property statement. Again – if implemented – this would be free of charge.
Poufos stressed also that requests for detailed property tax statements need only be made to the IRD, which is the competent department.
But make no mistake: tax authorities’ eagerness to fix administrative hiccups may be people-friendly, but there’s an ulterior motive. The state needs to collect these tax revenues on schedule in order to meet fiscal targets set out in the island’s bailout by international lenders.
The government expects to collect between €105m and €110m from IPT this year – around €30m more than the initial projected amount.
The deadline for paying IPT is November 15; any IPT paid after this date will result in a 10 per cent penalty plus interest and any other administrative charges imposed by the law.
As an incentive for prompt settlement, a discount of 10 per cent is given if IPT is paid by October 15.
Currently, it is the responsibility of each owner to self-declare the property registered in their name and its 1980 value annually to the IRD. But in 2014 a new system should be in place that will send out tax demands to more than 300,000 individuals and companies that are liable for this tax.