Assembly approves new timeframe for submissions under Immoveable Property Tax Act | 10 December 2020
- Amendments to terms of reference for Defence and Security committee given thumbs up
The National Assembly yesterday approved by 30 votes the Immoveable Property Tax (Interim Measures) Bill.
The Bill, presented by Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan, principal secretary for finance Damien Thésée, and Attorney General (AG) Frank Ally, provides for the broadening of the tax base without it being necessary to increase the domestic tax rate, requiring non-Seychellois residents with immoveable property to contribute towards the tax regime much-needed revenue to finance government projects.
In introducing the Bill, Minister Hassan highlighted that it proposes certain amendments to the legislative framework relating to the Immoveable Property Act 2019 which provides for non-Seychellois to register and pay 0.25 percent tax on immoveable property based on evaluations of the value of said property.
In detailing the rationale and what the Bill sets out to achieve, Minister Hassan stated that it covers three main components; firstly, it serves to prolong the stipulated timeframe to register the properties as per the Immoveable Property Tax Act 2019. Secondly, it will also prolong the time given to evaluate the properties and thirdly, it looks at the procedures to be followed in the eventuality that a property has been purchased in foreign exchange, and also covers the contents of the Immoveable Property Tax (Registration of Taxpayers) (Temporary Measures) Regulations 2020 and Immoveable Property Tax (Submission of Valuation Form), (Temporary Measures) Regulations 2020, both applicable until December 31, 2020.
Through the Bill, both regulations presently enforced under the Act are to be repealed. Minister Hassan went on to note that the new Bill also makes provisions for some periods during the year, for non-Seychellois to register properties and submit their valuations not conforming to the periods which were previously specified for which penalties would apply.
“Unfortunately, the implementation of this tax has been delayed with regards to registration and submissions of valuations. The pandemic has further worsened the situation as many individuals were unable to travel on account of restrictions in place,” he said.
As per notices previously published in July, the set timeframe for registration was from July 1 to October 31, 2020 with the period to submit to chief valuation officer July 1 and November 30, 2020.
The approved Bill proposes that deadline are prolonged as follows:
“The final day to register properties with the Registrar General to be prolonged to December 31, 2020, and the final day to submit evaluations to the chief valuation officer be extended to February 28, 2021. The final day for tax payments for these immoveable properties for 2020, is extended to March 31, 2021. It is worth noting that in the instance that submissions are handed in after these dates, penalties under the Immoveable Property tax Act 2019 will be applicable.”
Several members debated on the application of the Bill and the competency of collecting authorities, namely the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) which has in the past fallen short in terms of tax collection.
Leader of the opposition Sebastien Pillay expressed concerns with regards to valuation and what foreign exchange rate is applicable in calculating tax dues, to which Minister Hassan responded by stating tax will be calculated based on the published foreign exchange rate on the day on which the valuation is submitted.
Providing further details on the process thus far, Minister Hassan noted 552 submissions, 460 of which have been successfully registered. A total 100 valuations have been submitted, 50 of which have been processed.
One of the issues resulting in delays was that the necessary mechanisms were not in place, but an online submission process has been put in place both at the Registrar and Ministry of Lands and Housing that ought to address implementation issues.
Amendments to Terms of reference for Defence and Security Committee
Chairperson of the Defence and Security Committee Clifford Andre brought a motion to approve amendments to the terms of reference for the said committee, which was approved by 32 votes.
In their interventions, members acknowledged the importance of the committee is having oversight on security and defence authorities.
The committee will further decide on its specific functions and roles upon meeting.
The National Assembly will resume with its debates on a third motion brought by leader of the opposition Pillay.