Big Kahuna

Property Tax In St Thomas

As a homeowner here on St Thomas I have to tell you I’ve never seen anything like the property tax debacle. Apparently we are being assessed a tax rate from 1998. But it’s 2008. So from what I’ve read we need to somehow catch up and re-asses all the property values.

Here’s a quote from Virgin Island daily News:

In May 2003, District Judge Thomas Moore prohibited the territory from collecting property taxes until some changes were made to tax law. Two months later, after former governor Charles Turnbull signed a bill that would freeze property values for tax purposes at 1998 assessments, Moore modified his injunction. Since 2003, property taxes have been collected based on 1998 assessed values – the last set of values deemed fair by the court.

So the Virgin Island government did an island wide re-assessment of all property in St. Thomas and here’s the skinny:

The new tax plan has different base tax rates for different types of property. Unimproved non-commercial property would be taxed at 0.49 percent of its value. Residential property would be taxed at 0.38 percent of its value. Commercial property would be taxed at a rate of 0.71 percent of its value, and timeshares would be taxed at 1.4 percent of their values. These taxes will be mitigated by several exemptions.

However, as things are right now, the new tax rates can be applied only to 1998 values. The government has filed a motion in District Court, asking for the injunction that freezes tax collection at 1998 values to be lifted. If District Judge Curtis Gomez decides to lift the injunction, taxes can be assessed using the new property values. If the injunction is not lifted, the only tax values that are valid are those assessed in 1998.

The V.I. Tax Assessor’s Office is two years behind on mailing out and collecting taxes (can you imagine?). The last tax bills paid by property owners – sent out last year – were from 2005. Wow is this wacky or what? Could you imagine this happening in the states?

What does all this mean?

I guess that means that in the not too distant future property taxes for everyone in St Thomas are going to skyrocket. That’s what I think will happen.

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