Bajans are nearly united in their hatred of a newly implemented tax liability. The Municipal Solid Waste Tax Act 2014 is a targeted tax increase that applies to all residents regardless of income. That means that a single mother struggling to feed her family is equally responsible for paying the tax as a wealthy citizen living across town.
Why the tax?
The government has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to do more to raise money internally. The IMF expects countries to maximize revenues prior to receiving external funding to further boost the economy.
Since the Sanitation Service Authority has required substantial support from the government, a decision was made to fund those costs through a targeted tax. The Municipal Solid Waste Tax is used to cover those costs so that government funds may instead be utilised in other capacities.
Everyone. All property owners whose structures have improved the value of the land must pay the tax, which is calculated as 0.3% of the property value.
Tenants may not pay directly, but they can count on the new tax being rolled into their rent. They will be paying even if it is captured through rent increases.
Are there exemptions?
The Municipal Solid Waste Tax Act 2014 specifies no situations in which an exemption would apply, though some relief has been approved through a loophole built into the Act. Pensioners with property valued no greater than $190,000 have their solid waste tax payments waived thanks to an action by Cabinet.
Section 5 of the Act does leave room for possible relief to poor households. It empowers the Minister of Finance to apply surplus funds towards the accounts of those who cannot afford to pay the bill. Funds may be directed to those accounts. The Act also allows for refunds of a portion of these payments, although this approach is unlikely.
The first instalments have already been collected. Based on the increased costs incurred by the Sanitation Service Authority, this tax will not be going away no matter how unpopular it is.