Column: How Much Revenue Is Govt Losing?

January 29, 2016

[Opinion column written by Chris Famous]

While out canvassing recently, a Bermudian couple asked us to come in and have a conversation with them about the hikes in the land tax proposed by MP Bob Richards the week before Christmas.

The husband presented a spreadsheet that showed persons such as themselves with a house of the lowest value to be hit with a 200% increase in their land tax with rates increasing from 0.6% to 1.8%. Whilst persons with the highest values were to only experience an 8.7% increase with their rates increasing from 23% to 25%.

This contradicted the following statement by the Minister of Finance

“…. Mr. Speaker, we have aimed to deliver an adjustment in land tax rates that is fair to all sectors of the real estate market. ….. and believes that the rate increases are both equitable and fair.” MP Bob Richards – House of Assembly – December 16th, 2015.

They went on to show us pictures of their daughter who was overseas at university. They stated that between their mortgage and her university fees, they cannot afford any additional increase in land tax.  So for them, it will become a case of which bills will not get paid.

They then pulled out an article dated December 16th highlighting MP Bob Richards’s House of Assembly announcement that the OBA had committed to “unconditional government guarantee” for WEDCO’s reclamation project at South Basin, Dockyard.  This property will be ultimately used for commercial purposes including the America’s Cup.

Holding the notice of increased land tax in one hand and the news of the $39 million guarantee going towards the America’s Cup in the other, the wife asked, “Why does it feel as if ordinary hard working Bermudians, who are struggling to make ends meet, are now being hit with increases in taxes in order to pay for a sport for the wealthy?”

Before we left the wife posed two more questions to us:

  1. If the recession was truly over as Premier Dunkley had stated, why are working class Bermudians now being hit with increased land taxes?
  2. Why were wealthy folks  only having a 8.7% increase in their land tax bill while working class persons land tax increases will be 200%?

…….the purpose of this Bill is to amend the land tax rates to ensure no loss of revenue to the Government…. MP Bob Richards – House of Assembly – December 16th, 2015.

So exactly how much revenue is government losing by granting several multi year land tax concessions to hotel developers?

- Chris Famous can be contacted via email at Carib_pro@yahoo.com or Twitter at @ryderz777

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Comments (15)

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  1. Matthew says:

    Burt Math????

  2. Bullseye says:

    Lowest rate raised from .6% to 1.8%. Actual increase in rate 1.2%.

    Highest rate raised 23% to 25%. Actual increase in rate 2%.

    It’s funny all the ways you can look at numbers.

  3. Double S says:

    This is such a disingenuous piece.

    Land tax is calculated on a tiered basis as per the following brackets:

    ARV
    1-11,000
    11,001-22,000
    22,001-33,000
    33,001-44,000
    44,001-90,000
    90,001-120,000
    120,001+

    Thus for someone that falls in the higher bracket ($120,001+) they are hit with an increase from each and every band.

    On top of that what Famous conveniently omits are that ARVs have been revised downward with the new ARVs issued on December 31 2015.

    My ARV decreased by $8,000 and with the increase in rates my actual land tax bill decreased by $40 or so under the new regime.

    Famous stop with your blatant misinformation.

  4. steve says:

    I will answer for you, and then you can email or phone your friend Mr Dunkley and thank the His “my people” for granting tax concessions so your “my people” will have a job.

  5. inna says:

    Twinkle, twinkle little star!

  6. archy says:

    And why is Govt guaranteeing revenues for developers at the proposed new airport?

    • Bermyman says:

      Because they are investing $250million and need the security.

    • Bermyman says:

      I think the sensible thing for people to do in this circumstance is read the AG’s report on Port Royal and then ask themselves why taxes are going up?

      Then read the economic report on the last America’s cup and ask themselves why the Government spent money on acquiring the AC 2017. Estimated $300m in economic activity is not a Beyonce Concert or a PGA grand slam for that matter.

  7. Frank says:

    Everyone wants the debt to go away but no one wants to pay for it!

  8. hmmm says:

    Can’t afford $132 extra per year (this is assuming the ARV doesn’t get reduced)

    That is an incredible story. Does this lady smoke? If so she could save thousands.

    Houses need maintenance, $132 is a drop in the ocean when it comes to maintenance.

    Me thinks Famous is playing the public by twanging their heartstrings.
    Bermudians are not instruments that can be played and manipulated by you, so stop insulting our intelligence.

  9. Kangoocar says:

    Hear we go again with the DISHONESTY of ” not so famous ” if famous had one ounce of decency left in him he should apologize for this out right falsehood he is now spewing!!!! I can only assume if these so called ” constituents ” which I highly doubt that part of this nonsense peice is true either? But if they do exist ( which I doubt very much? ) Then it is very likely they were drinking the special plp tea!!!! I have seen many disingenuous opinion pieces by ” not so famous ” but this one has to sit in the top five of them all!!!!!

  10. NCM says:

    It seems Mr. Famous, in his zeal to find anything to criticize the OBA Government, is now questioning the use of concessions to support hotel redevelopment. Concessions are used to attract investment, which is used to grow jobs and help rebuild the tourism industry’s hotel product – pretty worthy goals, all considered. Apparently not so for Mr. Famous when it comes to feeding stuff into his perpetual attack machine. But here’s where hiss partisanship stumbles over itself: land tax concessions were put forward in the Hotels Concessions Act 2000, which was passed by the PLP Government to grow jobs and rebuild tourism. It seems everything is fair game, even your own team, in Mr. Famous’s brand of attack politics. Stumble on, Mr. Famous, the further you go down this road the more will see you as the shill you are.

  11. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Just after we completed building our modest home, the law at that time gave us the opportunity to sell to an international open market, not long after the law changed excluding us and many others from the open realestate market.

    However, the same law gave the opportunity to others owning much larger homes the ability to market their property internationally causing a division, based on the A.R.V. this differential leads me to come to the conclusion that ” We the people” were /are not all treated the same, giving the rich and powerful opportunity and for others unequal opportunity.

    This “feathering the bed” Law of favoritism is still in effect today.

    I am of the opinion that we the working class exist without privilege, living from day to day and surviving from the scraps from the table, leaving some of us no other option but to look elsewhere.

    The high cost of living affects many Bermudians who I am sure are finding it difficult to survive here.

    It is rumored that Bermuda is no longer in recession yet the cost of goods and services continues to escalate.

    May i remind you, it is the ordinary people of this country that keep the wheels turning and are equally entitled to share in the spoils.