Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has renewed calls for the government to tighten ‘loopholes’ that exist with the new stamp duty waiver for locals seeking to acquire land during this COVID-19 period.
Recently, the government waived stamp duty fees payable on the sale or transfer of property from one Belonger to another Belonger. However, the government said Belongers who receive a stamp duty waiver and resell the property to a non-local before seven years will be required to repay the fees that were waived.
This measure is to ensure land is kept in the hands of BVIslanders and Belongers. But speaking in the House of Assembly earlier this week, Penn said this measure isn’t enough to stop locals from selling to outsiders.
He said there are wealthy people in the BVI who can benefit from the stamp duty waiver, wait for the seven years to elapse and then make a profit by selling land to non-Belongers.
“… Persons who are wealthy, who have the wherewithal to buy up large tracts of land. Wealthy people could sit on land forever – beyond that seven-year time frame. I believe we need to sit in committee when we discuss this, to see where those loopholes could be closed as well,” Penn argued.
Issue of home ownership
Penn also said it may be a good idea for the government to consider extending the stamp duty waiver to persons seeking to purchase homes.
“Even though we get the property, it creates a problem for persons to get the financing to build homes. So we have to find a way to marry the two. If a young Virgin Islander family wants to buy a home versus a piece of property, I don’t know if this [waiver] applies in this case as well,” Penn reasoned.
He said these matters should be addressed to ensure that people get the right benefits as the government will be losing out on much-needed revenue at this time.
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