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Opposition says Citco’s new tax measure might be illegal

Opposition Leader, Francis Fonseca, said the Belize City Council’s plan to deny drivers license to residents who owe certain taxes might very well be illegal.

Fonseca said to The Reporter last Wednesday, “there are some lawyers that I have already spoken to that are of the view that it is illegal and unlawful.”

He opted to reserve  his personal judgment on the issue, saying he prefers to get a legal opinion from the PUP’s legal advisor first.

“We are looking into that matter. We are doing the legal research on that issue,” he said.

Fonseca, however, did admit that he understands, in principle, what the mayor is trying to do.

“The mayor is trying to send a very strong and clear message that people need to pay their bill to the Council. The Council needs revenue and, if those bills are not paid,  they(delinquents) will not be able to access the services of the Council. … But the question is [whether or not] he is doing so in a legal manner.” Fonseca said.

The City Council’s new plan is to withhold drivers licenses of those who owe their property taxes, trade license fees and other such taxes or fees.

Speaking in an interview with Channel 5, Bradley said: “If you own a business; if you have a liquor license; if you own property and paying property taxes … if you owe us on any one of your accounts, then we will not provide services to you in respect of any service that you procure from the city.”

Bradley explained that it is costly to provide those services and that there is  a need for the Council to be more efficient in terms of collections.

Therefore, the Council has set up a new computerized database system that links residents’ payment history for different taxes and fees.

“So, if this person goes and  he wants a driver’s license,” Bradley said, “the system will pull up whether he/she owes any property taxes and we are asking  him/her to settle the property taxes before we issue the driver’s license.”

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