Graham Thompson
  August 17, 2018 - Bahamas

Top Ten Things to Know About Real Property Tax in The Bahamas

  1. Register your property Online.

Registering for an online real property tax account at propertytax.gov.bs is easy, and all that is needed is the property assessment and grid numbers (found on any bill or tax certificate). Once registered, the online account is a convenient way of keeping track of your account. Payment can also be made through the online account, and a tax certificate can be printed directly from the account.

  1. Pay the tax by 31st March and enjoy a 10% reduction.

All tax payers who pay the full amount of the real property tax and any surcharges on or before the 31st March in any given year enjoy a 10% deduction in the amount of the tax due.

  1. Avoid payment of penalties.

If real property tax is not paid by 31st December in any tax year, a 5% surcharge is applied to the outstanding tax amount.

  1. Ensure that your property is assessed under the correct category

Real property taxes are assessed under four main categories and different rates of taxes apply to each. The four categories are (i) Owner-occupied property (where the owner resides in the property and uses it exclusively as a dwelling on a permanent or seasonal basis) (ii) Residential property (contains 4 units or less, and used solely as a dwelling place) (iii) Commercial property (iv) Vacant land. The applicable rates are:

Owner- occupied property:

  • 1st$250,000 of property value: Exempt
  • Next $250,000 of property value: 0.625% of the next $250,000 of property value
  • Above $500,000 of property value (balance): 1% of remaining part of value, with a tax ceiling of $50,000.

Residential Property:

  • 1st$75,000 of property value: $300 flat fee
  • Anything above first $75,000 of property value (balance): 0.625% of remaining property value

Commercial property:

  • 1st$500,000 of property value: 0.75% of property value
  • Anything above $500,000 (balance): 2% of remaining property value

Vacant land:

  • 1st$7,000 of property value: $100 flat fee
  • Anything above $7,000: 1.5% of remaining property value

  1. Do not miss out on retiree benefits

Bahamian citizens who are 65 years of age and over are entitled to a 50 per cent reduction in the annual tax on owner-occupied property up to $1 million of property value.

  1. Know the time limits for an appeal against an assessment.

If you wish to dispute an assessment made by the tax department, you have 30 days after the date on which the assessment is deemed served within which to appeal to the Chief Valuation Officer. Any appeal from the Chief Valuation Officer’s decision to the Real Property Tax Appeal Tribunal must be made within 30 days of notice of the decision. There is a final right of appeal on a question of law to the Supreme Court within 21 days of the Tribunal’s decision.

  1. Ensure that, on a purchase of property, the Sellers’ real property taxes have been paid in full

Real property tax arrears attach as a first charge on the applicable property for as long as the tax remains unpaid. When buying property therefore it is essential to ensure that the real property taxes have been paid in full by the Seller. This can be done by obtaining a Real Property Tax Certificate which will show the status of any tax due and any surcharges outstanding.

  1. Beware of the power of sale for non-payment of real property taxes.

The enforcement powers for non-payment of real property taxes include a power of sale in respect of unimproved property and property owned by a non-Bahamian other than property that is owner-occupier for at least eleven months of the year and does not comprise a multi-purpose building.

  1. Submit a Declaration of Real Property on the acquisition of property and update annually.

Persons acquiring property are required to submit a Declaration of Real Property to the Ministry of Finance Valuation Section and there is a statutory obligation to update the same annually.

  1. Apply for tax exemption for Historic Buildings.

All buildings registered on the National Register of Historical Buildings are eligible for exemption from real property tax. Exemptions are not automatic and must be applied for even when your property is listed on the Historical Buildings List.




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