On-line Property Tax System Set: Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Lt. Governor Osbert Potter announced the start of a new on-line property tax payment system at Government House on Aug. 4. The introduction of the new payment system coincided with disbursement of a second round of property tax bills for 2015 on Aug. 1.
ST. THOMAS — Virgin Islands property owners can expect to see new tax bills in the mail after the second round of tax bills was issued Aug. 1.
Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter introduced a new online property tax payment system to make the payment process more palatable for residents.
Easing the pain of paying two tax bills in one year is also on the mind of the 31st Legislature, where Sen. President Neville James says a measure has been proposed to forestall late payment penalties.
Potter announced the new payment system at a press conference Aug. 5 at Government House. The electronic payment system, he said, is designed to help taxpayers avoid long lines they often find when paying in person.
“We have worked hard in reaching this particular milestone, to avoid the long lines that you have been subject to in the past,” he said.
The Office of the Tax Assessor, which issues property bills, operates under the direction of the territory’s lieutenant governor.
The online portal to make payments can be found at propertytax.vi.gov. Taxpayers who access the portal are also able to check their payment history. A receipt confirmation is sent by email to the payer.
Property owners paying taxes through escrow accounts can use the online system by authorizing the bank to use that method, according to Regina Watson, spokesperson for Potter.
The VI government has been issuing two property tax bills per year in recent years in an effort to recapture revenues it could not collect in the early 2000s when taxpayers sued in federal court over the way bills were calculated.
However in 2014 there was only one bill issued and Sen. James said there should be no surprise that a second bill came out in 2015. The administration of Gov. Kenneth Mapp is anxious to get the tax collection process started, James said.
For several weeks administration officials have been pressing lawmakers to approve their quest for revenue anticipation notes from the bond market. Revenues derived from collecting property taxes will retire the notes.
“This is just borrowing money from the bank in anticipation of collecting money from the bank,” James said.
But to ease the pressure on taxpayers, Sen. Marvin Blyden offered an amendment that would suspend late payment penalties for those paying after Oct. 1 if passed by the 31st Legislature.
However, the senate president said late payers cannot expect late payments will go penalty free indefinitely.