Coral Bay Community Council,Inc.















Update September 9, 2014

New Property Tax Assessments and bills are out: Property owners this week are receiving tax bills – some with big increases. We are all working to understand the new tax structure and figure out if it is fair and how the exemptions and “circuit breaker” will work. Here are the basics. Up until October 6th, you get a 5% discount for early payment. Payment is not due till December and you can appeal up to December. So there is time to figure this out.

1. On your bill – look at the total assessed value number. This should be the actual market value in Jan 2013. Is it a reasonable approximation? If it is too high you have a basis for appeal -- and you may be able to do this informally by calling the Cruz Bay office now and discussing making a correction with them – 776-6737. Otherwise you can formally appeal later.

2. On your bill, check for your homestead and veterans and other exemptions on the bill that reduce the amount owed.

3. You may be eligible for a “circuit breaker” tax credit by filling out a form at the office. (We will try to provide one on-line soon and more information.) Here are the eligibility rules from the law:

33 VIC 2402(a)(1) If, as a result of a reassessment, the amount of real property tax for a homestead or unimproved property increases over 125% from the previous year's real property tax for the homestead or unimproved property, and the household income of the property owner is less than $135,000, the property owner shall receive a tax credit equal to 40% of the real property tax increase for the homestead or unimproved property, but the tax credit may not exceed $5,000.

4. If you still find your assessment unrealistically high, or otherwise incorrect ( and the tax burden too great), you can give a copy of your tax bill to Myrtle Barry in the office at E&C Gas, along with your appraisal or other value info and an explanation and contact info written on the back. She and the Unity Day group who worked on the flawed assessments in 2006 are evaluating whether there are problems with this assessment round and whether legal action is warranted. You have an important role in creating this data set – so a judgment about the quality of the reassessment can be made. (If you are off-island you can scan and email to CBCC for delivery – please put BAD TAX ASSESSMENT in subject line, so they don’t get missed.) CBCC would also like your information on whether the bills are accurate and appropriate.

5. The news article below is good summary of the history of property taxation here. We will share more information as we have it.

http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/new-property-valuations-to-appear-on-forthcoming-bills-1.1737369


Update August 13, 2013

The 2012 property tax bills have been sent out. If they are paid prior to August 30th, you get a 5% early payment discount! Questions - call 776-6737.


Update March 5, 2013

Property tax bills are being mailed out: 5% Discounts if you pay by March 25th: http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-government/2013/03/01/division-real-property-issues-2011-property-tax-bills. Thanks to the St. John Source for being able to share their detailed info with you as links.


Update July 5, 2012:

More Property Tax Bills - In March 2012 we paid the 2009 Property Tax Billls, and now the 2010 bills are being released for payment. So watch the mail! You can get a 5% discount by paying by July 16th! See details here: http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-government/2012/06/28/division-real-property-tax-issues-2010-property-tax-bills You have till Sept 30th to pay, without penalties. There will be one more year of two bills and then the government will be caught up for the years no payments were solicited. The St. John office is open for payments from 9 to 3:45.
If you did not get a bill, call 340-776-6737.


Update: Jan 23, 2011

PROPERTY TAX: The original lawsuit was settled last week, with an agreement that taxes for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 will be due at the 1998 rates. This means you will pay the same amount as you paid on your 2006 property taxes that were due in Fall 2010; penalties start in Feb. 2011. Budget to pay TWO tax bills (for years 2007 and 2008) in 2011, as the government tries to catch up. What happens with the new higher assessments? The "new "lawsuit by St. John taxpayers (the Unity Day Group) about the flawed assessments goes to trial on February 7th, so we should know more in time http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/judge-lifts-freeze-on-v-i-property-taxes-1.1093906


Update: August 4, 2010

Revised Property tax bills for 2006 have been mailed. The new bills are identified with “2006R”. This bill is calculated in the same fashion that your 2005 bill was calculated, based on 1998 valuations. This bill is acceptable to the Federal Court under the lawsuits, and is therefore valid. In order to catch up, the 2007 bills are expected to go out in December or January.You should have received your bill in the mail by now. If you have not, it is probably not being sent to your correct mailing address. In this case, immediately call 340-776-6737, the St. John Tax Assessor office, to take steps to correct your mailing address and have a bill sent now. You are responsible even if the bill goes to the wrong address. It needs to be paid prior to October 15th, to avoid being delinquent. It is due Aug. 16th. Note there are a variety of ways to pay, including credit cards. See sample tax bill and instructions here (link).

If you paid the original 2006 tax bill sent two years ago in 2008 and again in 2009 – you should see a credit for the payment on this 2006R bill – and future bills, until it is used up. If you do not see this, immediately call the Tax Assessor’s office.

NOTE IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO PERMANENTLY KEEP ACCESSIBLE RECORDS OF YOUR PROPERTY TAX PAYMENTS TO THE VI AND GET AN OFFICIAL RECEIPT. Write the tax year and property id on your check – pay in person, if possible, so you leave with the receipt. If you mail it, keep a reminder to watch for the receipt by return mail – and follow up. (Certified mail does not help in this instance – you need the official stamped receipt.) You may need these records back many years, to avoid paying again. If your mortgage company pays, be sure they send the receipt to you for safekeeping.


Update: April 7, 2010

Here is the current status of the Property Tax situation - excellent for the pocketbooks of most St. Johnians.

Because the Federal Court has kept the injunction going, and has not allowed the new tax revaluations system to come into place, the VI Senate and the Governor, on March 24th, signed into law a bill that would allow the collection of 2006 and 2007 taxes -- at the old 1998 rates -- which means a very low bill for most St. Johnians (although slightly higher bills for many on St. Thomas and St. Croix).

Therefore this summer you can expect a tax bill for 2006 and another for 2007 later in the fall. It will probably be possible to pay in installments, if you need to. For those of you who already paid 2006 taxes -- any overage will be applied to your 2007 bill and beyond. This is the permanent tax rate for those years. There is government movement to do the same thing for the 2008 & 2009 bills. Many other questions are answered in this

article:http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17644944

If there is any chance the tax assessor don't have your correct mailing address in their records - call 776-6737 - and verify your mailing address with them - or get it corrected. About 20% of the St. John addresses are incorrect.

This is EXCELLENT short term news for St. John taxpayers -- and will also allow the government to collect up to four years of much needed revenue for the infrastructure and services we all desire.

The lawsuits and concern about the inaccuracy of the proposed tax assesment system continue to be important -- and will need to be watched --- but most likely will continue V-e-r-y -- S-l-0-w-ly---. That's the reality of this kind of lawsuits. Revaluation - just in terms of elapsed time -- will most likely be necessary before the lawsuits are completed. Nevertheless the lawsuit with the current 2003 injunction (more details in the entries below), and the filed lawsuit by the Unity Day Group which is not likely to "really" get started until the first suit is completed, are extremely important tactics and components in bringing about a new better system. They cost money and to anyone who feels its appropriate to personally financially support the lawsuit(s), it would be welcomed by the Unity Day Group.

The only way out of continuing the lawsuits is for the VI government to decide to redo the property valuations and the mathematic models for St. John, and perhaps for other areas. For some reason, there has been reluctance to do this - and actually at the moment, with so few sales in the marketplace, it probably isn't the best time. A new valuation would cost the government money -- but would yield a secure long term system. Perhaps - in 2011 - five to six years after the last revaluation, the government will do it again.

Better laws for appropriate rates and exemptions could also be passed in the future. There are many methods that are used in other places that provide for protection against high taxes for inherited land, elderly homeowners, large amounts of open land, and other kinds of property or populations. Good public policy can do this.

 

Update: Sept 30th, 2009

A hearing was held recently, and another is scheduled for Oct 15th. Essentially, everything is still on hold, but the Judge seems to be willing to spend a bit more time on it and scheduled a hearing for next month. There also is more talk about reassessing St. John as a solution. 2006 taxes are still not due. http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17639432

Update: June 16th 2009

The Federal Court of Appeals has affirmed the District Court ruling that the VI government was in contempt of court for sending out 2006 tax bills, that the 2003 settlement still stands due to its constitutional basis, and that the District Court still has to rule that the new tax system is fair to all tax payers, including the appeals process -- prior to any 2006 bills being sent out under the new tax system. As you know, we have expected this to be the court ruling -- it was the only decision that made sense under the US Constitution, under the law and under normal judicial procedure. Here is a link to the ruling: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Therefore, everyone can ignore the notice that 2006 taxes are due July 1st. They are not. If anyone recently received a 2006 tax bill within the last month, please let us know.

Update: May 16, 2009

The Federal Courts have made no decisions since the hearing held by the Court of Appeals in early 2009.

This week the Governor issued a new executive order to collect the 2006 taxes ( the same ones billed last summer) -- again with NO authorization to do so from the Federal courts in the on-going litigation. http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17635766 Here is the link to a letter CBCC wrote to the Governor in February - with no response from the Governor to date. Letter to Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. on property taxation 2-11-2009 It provides our considered thoughts on the stance of the government and the process -- and the need for fairness in taxation. We need some individuals well-versed in property tax strategies in the US to help design and implement a fair system here -- for all taxpayers.

Here is a link to the St John Unity Day group, if you want to see the legal filings and provide support: www.viunitydaygroup.org.

If you receive another 2006 bill in the mail, please let CBCC know. At this point, there is still no requirement to pay the 2006 taxes. They were stayed by the courts. And yes, we are three years behind now. Please tuck the funds away, so you will have them available when they finally become due.


Update: March 5, 2009

PROPERTY TAXES: Nothing has changed... a possible court decision by the end of March. However, a concern has been raised that some mortgage banks which received the tax bills may feel pressured to pay them - so if your mortgage holder receives the tax bills, you may want to inform them in writing that you do not want the bill paid, because it's legitimacy is being contested in court.


Update: January 13, 2009

Many people continue to ask about the status of the 2006 bills that were mailed. The Government is in contempt of court for sending out these bills last summer. The most recent public information was in this early December article: http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17630592 The District Court has not been in session since September on this issue. There will be a “first” hearing on January 23rd on the new lawsuit filed by St. John taxpayers and others challenging the validity of the property valuation system. 1/16 -Judge Gomez cancelled hearing, none scheduled currently.

Given the time that has passed, it seems likely that new bills, with new dates, would have to be mailed out to collect the 2006 taxes. What about 2007 and 2008 bills, that in the normal scheme of things would also be payable by now? It is going to be politically difficult for the government to collect more than one year’s due taxes each year. There will probably be an extended payoff schedule without penalty, when this happens. (Practical note: This information should be taken as “the well-meant opinion and analysis of a reasonably knowledgeable friend” and nothing more. Call the Property Tax office – or drop by at their new location on St. John – in the Islandia building, or seek professional advice, if you have any concerns.)

As 2009 begins, the Lt. Governor's office has FINALLY updated their property tax website to discuss the new law upon which the 2006 bills are based. The site encourages people to continue to discuss corrections of their property's valuation with the tax assessor's office. Do it! Let them know about other properties that are wrongly characterized and valued too. http://ltg.gov.vi/real-property-tax-system.html

Update Sept. 14th 2008

The District Court Judge ruled on Sept. 11, 2008, that the VI Government is in contempt of court for issuing the 2006 property tax bills, prior to the court’s ruling, and ordered the bills rescinded. The court also ruled that the appeals process is not currently sufficient and the revaluation process is not court-approved yet, and therefore, the court does not find the taxation system “ready for prime-time”. Here are newspaper articles with details:

http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17628503

http://www.onepaper.com/stjohnvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1212902139

Here are the Court’s orders: (to be posted soon)

Also, on Sept 12, 2008, the VI Government filed a court appeal of the Judge’s ruling. This will cost the parties pursing the lawsuit money to file court documents and defend the position of invalid bills.
http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17628522

The lawsuit by St John Taxpayers, called the VI Unity Day Group, has filed court documents too this week:
http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17628499

Therefore, IF you received a 2006 bill recently (not everyone did), it has currently been declared invalid (and would probably have to be refunded if you paid it.)

Update August 30, 2008

People are starting to receive the property tax bills for 2006 in the mail – at the new higher property valuations. The VI government has decided to send out the bills prior to receiving the District Court’s OK, under the long-standing lawsuit.

1. There is an upcoming court hearing in early September challenging the validity of sending these bills out. Nothing will be known until the Court rules - based on the “old lawsuit”, and possibly based on the “new lawsuit” filed by the group of St. John taxpayers.

2. Tax payments are not overdue until Nov. 22th, so you have time, prior to paying, to find what the Court does, if these will be considered legitimate bills, and whether you are eligible for the “circuit breaker” tax credit ( a large savings), whether you want to appeal – and other possibilities that might exist as the weeks pass.

3. The “compromise deal ” reported in the June 5th update below did not happen, although there was no formal announcement of its failure. Right now St. Johnians are expected to pay just like everyone else, although it is still possible that some similar “special deal” may be reached. Thus everything is still really unclear.

4. The explanatory information about property taxation on the Tax Assessor’s website – is out of date, old and inaccurate.

Right now, if you are concerned with the accuracy of your final property valuation, and thus your tax amount, hang on to your bill and stay tuned to see what happens with the court cases, etc. in the next two months. We will attempt to keep you informed. (If you are fine with your tax amount - pay it now. The government needs the money, so we can have the services we want.)

Update on VI property tax: June 5, 2008

On June 2, an agreement was reached under the “old” property tax lawsuit to allow 2006 property tax bills to be issued at the new rates, with the provision that if you enter a formal appeal to your valuation after you receive your bill, you will only have to pay tax at the old rates while the appeal is pending. This is good for allowing the VI government to collect needed income, but does not yet resolve the revaluation problems on St. John.

The VI Unity Day Group has filed the “new” lawsuit on the flawed St. John revaluation, and this is still pending, as is the revaluation portion of the old lawsuit.

Article links on the June 2 property tax decision: http://www.onepaper.com/stjohnvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1212898600


Latest tax calculation model - this calculates at "new rates". (link)

Update on VI property tax: March 11, 2008

Governor's letter and line-item vetoed bill (link)


Update on VI property tax: February 5, 2008

Taxation: On Feb. 5th, the Governor introduced amended property tax rate legislation – the most significant difference is only issuing one tax bill in 2008 (instead of the planned two bills). However the other provisions remain the same, and we still do not have the revaluation information necessary to understand the impact on St. John. The Governor has called the Legislature into Special Session Thursday, February 6th, to urge them to move quickly on the legislation – but nothing has really changed since the Legislature avoided passing the bill two weeks ago (vote 7-7, with one abstaining).Here is the Governor's latest tax bill to be discussed by Legislature in Special Session, Thurs, Feb 7th Tax bill.

REVALUATION: Barring software glitches, the corrections to the valuations for St. John and the other islands, should appear on the property tax website this coming Monday. Thereafter, there will be updates on Mondays, when data changes. HOWEVER – the 2006 sales value adjustments will NOT be part of this data release, so we still will not know the actual 2006 valuations for taxation of our properties.The Tax Assessors Office did recently provide information on the 2006 sales figures and intended adjustments to the Court’s Special Master for comment and review. What should you do if the update is released and it doesn’t appear the correct changes were made for your property? Call the Tax Assessor’s Office on St. Thomas and inquire. Also please email CBCC so we can keep track. (The data collectors apparently are still working on St. John to make corrections and updates. It is on-going.)

Update on VI property tax: January 15, 2008

The VI Legislature Committee of the Whole is meeting to discuss property tax legislation on Friday, January 18th at 9:30 am, on St. Thomas at the Legislature bldg. CBCC has asked to testify. Here is a copy of the tax bill (Tax Bill). Anyone is welcome to attend. We will report back to you on the hearing.

Also - here is a listing of 2007 St. John property sales for your information (property sales).

The corrections and updating of the 2006 property assessments on St. John continues. We were told by the Tax Assessor's office on Jan. 4th that the work continues and the information on the website will be updated shortly....Stay tuned.

Update on VI property tax: November 19th

Revaluation:
1.
The revaluation process on St John is ongoing. If you have not previously requested a review of your property, it is not too late. Go ahead and phone for a review. (See information below.)
2.
The promised update of the computer records and inclusion of 2006 values has not occurred yet. The new values will be the “final values.” Stay tuned.
3.
We remain very concerned that the process itself remains flawed and will be watching closely.


Taxation:
1.
The governor has presented a property tax bill to the VI Senate. Tax Bill We are trying to get a copy that integrates the current law, for easier reading.
2.
There is a “circuit breaker” clause that provides some limited relief for taxpayers whose values increase dramatically. See how it would impact your taxes here: Tax-example . If you don't have an .xls program try www.google.docs. Then write us and the Governor about its impact for you.
3.
Current plans are for the property tax to be collected twice before Sept 30th, 2008 ( to match the government budget outlays) – so there will be double the impact of the new tax rate, in one year.

PROPERTY TAX REVALUATION PROCESS

The Virgin Islands is under a federal court-ordered property tax revaluation, to bring all property valuations in the Virgin Islands to their accurate market value, for a given year, currently January 2006. This process is being supervised by the Court, and all property owners are invited and encouraged by the VI Tax Assessors office to participate in correcting errors in the draft revaluations that are being circulated now.

Have you checked your revaluation value? – If not, see CHECKING YOUR INFORMATION.

Resources: www.vipropertyrevaluation.com

Doing comparative property analysis: comparative property analysis

CBCC letter to the Lt. Governor Sept. 13th: Click Here

Contacts for sending your taxation policy letters: Click Here

Comparative Property Sales: Coral Bay Sales 2004 to 2007, all St John sales: www.islandiavi.com or some of the other local realtor sites.

ACCURACY OF YOUR VALUATION: Is this the market value of your property in January 2006? That is what the number is supposed to represent. If not, call NOW (CHECKING YOUR INFORMATION) and ask questions and ask to be put on the list for revaluation.

As of September 26th, revised information on characteristics should be available on the website, including updated data collector visit information and date of inspection, where completed. If you requested it, and yours does not show as of this date, call and request again, just to be sure...You may also be able to get information answered or give them information over the phone or by going to the St. John office at the Battery.

DO NOT DELAY: MANY valuations on St. John are too high, or done “wrong” – the errors can be fixed easily now IF property owners point out the errors to the property valuation office. (If you wait, you may have to go through a much more complicated legal process to get your valuation corrected. Now it is relatively easy – since they are working on the DRAFT values.)

TAXES: So how much tax will I pay? Don’t start calculating… Nobody knows yet. Yes, taxes will go up. They have NOT since about 1998.
No one knows yet what the new tax rate and exemptions will be, because the study making recommendations to the government is still under review. Stay tuned to this site for updated information.

Click on the documents for more information. This page will change regularly, as more information comes in.

 

CORAL BAY COMMUNITY COUNCIL, INC.
Office: 8-1 Estate Emmaus, Coral Bay, St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands
Mailing: 9901 Estate Emmaus, St. John, VI, 00830-9587
E-mail: coralbaycommunitycouncil@hotmail.com
Phone 340-776-2099