On the the blog Caribisch Netwerk, Hazel Durand writes about some issues related to the property tax on Saba. “We are a small island where so many taxes are levied that we are not accustomed to,” said penshonado Diana Medero. “I can not pay the property tax from my pension, so I have to take a job, even though I am old.”
Retirees on Saba are struggling to pay their property tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 Meanwhile, the property tax for 2014 is further increased by 0.2 percent. The property tax is levied on a second home, an apartment that is rented or a commercial building. On Saba many retirees rent modest apartments to add to their small pension.
“Before October 10, 2010, there was much discussion about the enforcement of property tax, but it was never levied,” said retiree Hilton Hassell, who previously worked as a surveyor. “The currency was changed from guilders to dollars without our pensions being aligned and now they suddenly insist to levy the property tax. Add the high cost of living and this makes our lives a lot more expensive.”
According to Astrid Tatem, team leader at the Tax Office for Saba and St. Eustatius, one should not forget that property taxes have always existed in the former Netherlands Antilles. “There was just no system to levy them.” The law also states, that, if someone can not timely pay his property taxes, the property can be confiscated. Many Sabans fear they might soon lose their land.
Some Sabans have a payment plan for the property tax. If the house is valued at $ 200,000, then there should be six percent of the value be paid at the end of this year. This can also be done in monthly installments. However most people, including pensioners, have not declared their apartments because they claim not to have been informed properly. They have been invited to discuss this with the tax authorities.
“The Netherlands must understand that European and Caribbean Netherlands have evolved differently,” says Hassel. “In the Netherlands land has always belonged to the aristocrats. On the other hand, most Sabans have inherited their properties from their parents. This originated after the abolition of slavery when landowners, who left Saba, have given large pices of land to their employees as compensation”.
Hassell and his brothers and sisters have received land from their parents, but they can not do anything with it. “We all have our own house to pay off. If we want to use the land, we have to pay property taxes, so that does not make this attractive. ”
For the years 2011 and 2012, the tax is levied at the same time. Over those years only 0.4 percent need to be paid. According to the tax authorities, this also applies to 2013 so as to create a transition period. For 2014 the rate of 0.6 percent must be paid.