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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
January 13, 2009
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
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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 19thRevaluation:
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.
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
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.
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