Dec 30, 2009
Re-examine current system of property taxation
I HAVE repeatedly urged the authorities to re-examine the current system of property taxation, but to no avail. The current system is based on an assessment of what rent a similar property would fetch to determine its annual value.
The authorities maintain a list of properties to be taxed in a valuation list, and most of the properties on the list are reviewed once a year, although the law does not prevent the chief assessor from reviewing them more than once a year.
A situation can arise in that the annual value of a property is increased when there is a new leasing which achieves a higher rent than the previous one, but if the new leasing is lower than the previous one, the annual value is not adjusted downwards. I urge the authorities again to consider taxing property owners at source on the actual rent received but reserve a right to review the rent later if it is low.
The current system also suffers from a waste of paper and time. Whenever there is a change in the annual value of a property, a 'statutory notice' is generated to inform the property owner. A 'statutory notice' (together with the re-computation of taxes payable) is given individually to each unit affected in a building with multiple units. Bills for each account are also generated at the end of the year.
With the acceptance of e-mail even in courts, it would be good if the authorities can follow in SingTel's footsteps to give its customers the green option of receiving bills via e-mail.
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang