The Ministry of Local Government and Environment will be aggressively pursuing a Property Tax Compliance Programme.
This project, which has its foundation in voluntary compliance, is to be implemented using a three-pronged approach.
According to the Ministry's Performance Report for 2005/06, which was tabled in the House last week by the Minister, Dean Peart.
The three-pronged approach would include a public education programme; improved customer service, particularly as it pertains to access points and improved distribution of assessment notices and reminders.
"A public education programme is scheduled to commence in the next few weeks. It is aimed at sensitising the public on the uses of the property tax revenues and the benefits which accrue to communities when the tax is paid on time," says the report.
"A crucial thrust of the programme is to ensure the link between property taxes and the local authorities. Local government personnel and communities will be featured in the public education campaign. The projected budget for the campaign is $4 million," the document notes.
For 2006/07, the Ministry, in conjunction with the local authorities, will continue to print and facilitate the delivery of individual assessment notices to all registered land owners on the property tax roll.
According to the report, "distribution is now fully underway with the high value notices being passed to the parish councils for hand delivery to the individual owners".
For other properties, the Post Master General's Department has been contracted to deliver assessment notices and reminders to property owners, both locally and overseas.
The Ministry will also be promoting the use of bill payment agencies, so as to facilitate the payment of property taxes.
six per cent increase
Compliance rate for the 2005/06 fiscal year was just under 40 per cent, representing a six per cent increase over the previous fiscal year.
The key parishes impacting on the property tax revenues are St. James, nine per cent; St. Ann, eight per cent; Manchester, 10 per cent; St. Catherine, seven per cent (not including Portmore), with Kingston and St. Andrew having the highest rate of 35 per cent.
The report also points out that other aspects of the Property Tax Compliance Programme will seek to "have delinquents fulfil their obligations by making full use of the powers in existing legislation, and having each Council identify and implement its own programme, targeting the worst delinquents in their jurisdictions".
It further adds that the ministry will also seek to have delinquents fulfil their obligations through "technological improvements through Fiscal Services Limited, so as to enable real time information on payments".
At the end of the 2005/06 fiscal year, arrears outstanding were reported at over $6 billion.