While the CEO of the Giftland Mall has declared victory and claims that the Court has ruled that he does not owe any taxes to the Georgetown City Council, the Attorney for the City Council Darren Wade is insisting that the Court made no such ruling.
Chief Justice Roxanne George on Thursday dismissed the City’s claim for more than $100 million in taxes from the Giftland Mall.
The Giftland CEO in a statement is demanding an apology from the City Mayor by tomorrow. He said if none is offered, he intends to sue the Mayor.
But the City Council’s Attorney Darren Wade explained this afternoon that the matter was dismissed on the grounds that a proper evaluation of the taxes owed was not done. He said that is not the same as no taxes being owed.
“In yesterday’s proceedings, the Court quashed the demand notes sent by the City to MCG Investments demanding owed taxes. The reason for quashing those demand notes is simply because the Chief Evaluation Officer would have failed to follow the Law in respect to the valuation for rates and taxes. Properties are to be valued every five years, the reality is that the properties in Georgetown and the entire country have not been valued since 1996 and so consequently there is no lawful list to work with” Attorney Wade explained.
The Attorney said while taxes cannot be demanded based on a system that has not been updated, that does not mean that taxes are still not owed.
“The Court is of the view that laws relating to taxes must be strictly followed. So, as a result of the failure by the Minister and Chief Valuation Officer, the Court held that demanding taxes is unlawful”
Wade said based on the ruling, the Chief Justice appears to be of the view that a modern evaluation must be done in order for the Council to demand taxes. He said once that updated evaluation is done, the taxes are likely to be much higher and the City Council will stand to benefit more.
“I raised the point with her (the Chief Justice) that should there be an evaluation and for that to be a modern evaluation and she agreed that it must be in the context of 2021. So, I believe in the long run the Chief Justice’s ruling is beneficial for the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown and all the local authorities”.
The Giftland Company in a statement yesterday celebrated the ruling as meaning that the company owes no taxes.
The Chief Justice’s ruling is to be made clear when she hands down her orders in March.