Governor John deJongh on March 22 approved Bill 28-0208 which authorizes the issuance and collection of real property taxes at the 1998 rate and assessment levels.
But the governor’s signing of the bill did not come without his expressing deep concern about the negative impact that one of the bill’s sections will have on the ability of the government to effectively collect real property taxes.
While deJongh told the Senate on Monday the legislation is a crucial measure which will allow the government to send out real property tax bills at the 1998 assessment rate and levels, he pointed out that, “Section 5 is detrimental to the collection process because it prohibits the government from levying any interest and penalties on any assessment for the property tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008.”
This is counter-productive to the government’s objective to collect real property taxes since it prevents the government from imposing interest and penalties as a ready tool for collecting delinquent taxes, explained deJongh.
“I urge that the members of the 28th Legislature reconsider this measure, as it distinctly creates a disincentive for the timely payment by real property taxpayers whose revised 2006 real property tax bills increased under the 1998 rate and assessment level,” said dejongh.
Commenting on another section of the legislation, deJongh said that Section 2 is necessary as it facilitates the process by providing the financing from reprogrammed monies in order for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to develop script, reconfigure the system and reprogram data to the 1998 assessment rate and levels.
With the passage of the measure, the government can proceed with the process of reissuing the 2006 real property tax bills at the 1998 assessment rate and levels and consider the issuance of the 2007 real property tax bills at the 1998 level, added deJongh.
In correspondence to the Senate, the governor noted that he must remain cognizant of the potential burden placed on residents with the issuance of multiple tax bills within one calendar year.
“With this in mind, my Administration will make every effort to alleviate the anxiety of taxpayers with respect to the payment of multiple real property taxes in one year and will work with the members of the 28th Legislature to resolve this matter which is of grave importance to the Virgin Islands community,” said the governor.