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On 1 March 2021, during the Fiscal Strategy Debate, the Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister & Minister of Finance, announced the Government’s immediate implementation of the “Real Property Tax Forgiveness Program” (the “Program’), as outlined in The Real Property Tax (Amnesty) Order, 2021 (“the Order”), and which came into effect on 1 March 2021.  The purpose of this Program is to provide much needed relief to families and business owners adversely impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing substantial discounts on arrears of real property taxes, including accumulated surcharges depending on whether the affected properties are Bahamian or non-Bahamian owned.

Bahamian Owned Properties

Properties owned by Bahamians shall be entitled to the following:

  • A waiver of 50% of the total real property taxes and surcharges which have been outstanding for more than 180 days, PROVIDED THAT full payment of all sums due and owing is made on or before 31 May 2021; or
  • A waiver of 100% of all surcharges payable on real property taxes which have been outstanding for more than 180 days PROVIDED THAT the owner of the property has entered into a payment agreement with the Chief Valuation Officer on or before 31 May 2021 and complies with the terms and conditions of such agreement. The payment agreement will stipulate that
    • A deposit of no less than 25% of the outstanding real property taxes must be paid on or before the date of the agreement;
    • The balance of all remaining sums shall be paid within three (3) years of the date of the agreement; and
    • Where the balance is not paid in full within ninety (90) days of the due date outlined in the agreement, the total amount of surcharges shall be revived.

Non-Bahamian Owned Properties

Properties owned by Non-Bahamians shall be entitled to a waiver of all surcharges payable on outstanding taxes which have been outstanding for more than 180 days, provided that full payment of all sums is made on or before 31 May 2021

However, all property owners should take note of the following:

2021 Real Property Taxes are Unaffected

The Order does not apply to real property taxes assessed on any property for 2021 and it does not affect the 10% discount allocated where full payment is made by 31 March 2021; and

Failure to Satisfy Conditions

Failure to comply with the conditions under which the above-mentioned waivers are granted, will result in the revival of taxes and surcharges which were waived, as if the Order was not in force.

For more information, contact any member of the Real Estate & Development practice group.

The information contained in this article is provided for the general interest of our readers, but is not intended to constitute legal advice. Clients and the general public are encouraged to seek specific advice on matters of concern. This article can in no way serve as a substitute in such cases.
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