Property taxes are necessary no matter who is in government. The goal of property tax is to generate revenue to fund the government’s expenditure. Prior to 2009, most homeowners paid their land and building taxes and would have dutifully continued paying into an improved, modernized, and efficient system. Our country has lost more than 10 years of revenue and some new homeowners are convinced that the tax is burdensome, oppressive, and regressive so they refuse to cooperate with any efforts to implement the renewed version.
We got to this situation because, under the PNM administration which ended in 2009/2010, the law was withdrawn without a new one being fully implemented. A clever “Axe de Tax” campaign helped to oust the PNM Government and from 2010 to 2015, the country was led by the People’s Partnership. During this period, new legislation to regularize the tax was not put in place so we continued to be unable to collect property taxes. Then came the PNM administration of 2015 to 2020 and again property tax was not implemented. Now the 2020 PNM administration is trying to implement it and they are “ketching their nenen”.
One way to guarantee the successful implementation of this new property tax approach is for us to see collaboration across the floor between the PNM and the UNC. Agreement on this issue can send a strong message to John Public that we need to work together on issues of national interest. No matter who is in government, the collection of property taxes will positively impact the government’s coffers and provide the much-needed income to fund the government’s projects. Once the government can fund necessary projects, we the citizens all benefit.
Our current reality is that there will be a continued significant decline in income from the energy sector and the government has limited options to raise revenues. Property taxes, therefore, become even more important as a way of expanding income to fund recurrent expenditure.
While I support the re-introduction of Property Taxes, I am concerned that Taxes disappear into the abyss of the “Consolidated Fund” and citizens can make no direct correlation between their taxes and the delivery of services in their communities. Maybe the time has come for a national discussion about a way to use property taxes to improve the geographic areas in which they are collected.