PROPERTY (RIGHTS OF SPOUSES) ACT 2004
The Property (Rights of Spouses) Act became the law of Jamaica on April
1, 2006. The biggest change for which this bit of legislation owes credit is the presumption that each spouse has a 50% interest
in the family home, regardless of whether both or only one name is registered on the title for the property. Under this Act
a common law spouse is treated in the same way as a spouse pursuant to a marriage however for such unions to qualify for protection
the union must be between a single man and a single woman living together continuously for a period of at least
The Court should now
find it much easier to settle property disputes between spouses in respect of the family home. Hitherto it was necessary to
embark on an artificial determination of the common intention of the parties as at the time of acquision which invariably
was challenging since a happy couple very rarely express such intentions when purchasing a family or matrimonial home. To
solve this the learned Judges would look at the respective contributions and from that derive the intention. Of course such
an approach often led to some unfairness since the party with the greater financial backing very often would end up with the
A party who wishes to avail himself/herself
of the benefits of the Act must file the application within 12 months of separation or ending of the marriage. Additionally
a caveat can be lodged against the title for the Family Home preventing any disposal without first notifying the Applicant.
The 50:50 presumption can be displaced in certain circumstances
such as where the home was inherited by one spouse or where the marriage was of a short duration.
TRANSFER TAX & STAMP DUTY NOW 5% &
4% RESPECTIVELY AS AT APRIL 1, 2013
The repreive offerred in 2009
is now at an end. Beginning April 1, 2013 Transfer tax will be 5% of the market value of the property being transferred. Stamp
Duty also inched up to 4% of the sale price. These increases will now eat into the pockets of vendors and purchasers and may
impact on rates charged by professionals such as Attorneys and Realtors as individuals and firms seek to lessen the burden
on their wallets.
The increases were part of pre conditions by the International
Monetary Fund before the country could benefit from a loan facility. Other areas of the revenue were also tweaked.
Property tax ballooned by 150% and tax waivers, for the most part, have been scaled
100% TAX AMNESTY ENDS JULY 31,2008
The Minister of Finance and the Public
Service, the Honourable Audley Shaw has approved an extension of the 100% waiver of interest and penalty to July 31, 2008.
Persons with taxes outstanding on or before April 11, 2008, now have an additional month to pay their taxes owed to
get the full 100% relief from interest, penalties and other charges.
The extension in
the 100% waiver is in response to requests from primarily the business community who appealed to the Minister to allow more
time for them to make appropriate arrangements to clear their outstanding liabilities. Also based on the overwhelming
response to the 100% waiver offer, persons operating outside the tax system have also indicated the need for additional time
to prepare their returns and to regularise their operations, as they seek to benefit from the relief on charges.
Taxpayers will therefore have more time to reconcile their records with the information available in the tax
departments without losing the opportunity to benefit from the 100% relief.
be noted that the period of the amnesty still ends on October 31, 2008. Payments made by July 31 will now get a 100%
waiver instead of the previous 80%. However, the relief of interest and penalties to be granted in subsequent months remain
the same. Waiver on payments made by August 31 remains at fifty percent (50%); by September 30 remains at forty percent
(40%); and by October 31 remains at twenty percent (20%).
Taxpayers who have amounts
outstanding for Property Tax, General Consumption Tax (GCT), Special Consumption Tax (SCT), Contractors Levy, Income Tax (PAYE,
Corporate, Individual), Education Tax, Transfer Tax, Stamp Duty, and Asset Tax are urged to take advantage of the extra time
and pay their outstanding principal amounts by July 31 to get the 100% relief from all charges being offered under the Tax
NHT OFFERS CLUSTER
April 1, 2008 the NHT will be offering a new product called a cluster loan. Essentially this new facility allows nine (9)
individual applicants or eighteen (18) co applicants to apply to purchase a parcel of land suitable for subdivision into 9
can also use the joint Finance program to access this service. The usual documents supplied in processing a house lot
must be provided to the Trust together with a letter from the relevant Parish Council inidcating that the land may be subdivided.
INCREASES LOAN LIMIT
Update May20, 2013 : If you have been a regular contributor to the NHT and are now in the process of
purchasing a home or a parcel of land you may apply for a contribution refund loan towards your deposit (CRTD). The NHT
will issue a letter to the vendor's Attorneys indicating the amount you are qualified to receive under the scheme. In turn
the Attorney should issue an undertaking to the Trust to the effect that if the transaction is cancelled the CRTD will be
returned to the NHT. For persons who may have a difficulty with amassing the entire deposit the CRTD can be a helpful tool
in achieving your home ownership goal.
Update January 1, 2012: The maximum loan amount to
any one individual is now $4.5M.
The Prime Minister recently announced, in a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of the NHT, increases in the loan
limits accessible through the NHT. These increases come into effect at the start of the new financial year, April 1, 2006.
The increases are as follows:
1. Scheme, Open Market, and Building on Own Land benefits
The loan limits
for Scheme, Open Market, and Building on Own Land benefits will increase from $1.5 million to $3million per applicant. This
means that two applicants coming together to purchase a unit can obtain $6 million.
2.Serviced Lot/ House
The loan limits for a Serviced Lot and House Lot move from $600,000.00 to $1 million and with two applicants,
it moves from $800,000.00 to $1.6 million.
The loan limits for home improvement for
single applicants move from $600,000.00 to $1 million and with two applicants, it moves from $1.2 million to $2 million.
* Revision of the eligibility criteria to apply for an NHT loan which at present entails applicants having to account
for and pay up with interest, contributions due in the last seven years. This has now been reduced to three years.
* Currently contributors are entitled to one benefit in their life time. Considerations are being given to two new initiatives
which will benefit persons who received loans at least fifteen years ago, namely:
o The Home Enhancement Loan Plan
(HELP) which allows for repairs to residential properties owned by contributors; and
o The Home Ownership by Exception
(HOPE) initiative which entitles contributors who have received a loan, but who are now no longer home owners to access another
* Access to construction loans after the expiration of seven years, will be changed to accommodate applications
at any time.
AMNESTY PERIOD FOR TRANSFER
TAX ON ESTATES ENDS SOON!!
In April of 2005 the Minister of Finance announced a new amnesty
measure aimed at increasing the compliance rate for the payment of transfer tax on estates. In doing so the method of calculating
the tax was simplified and reduced to a flat rate of 7.5% for all estates with a value of at least $100,000.00. At the time
of the announcement only estates of persons who died after June 1, 2005 could benefit from the new regime, however the scope
was later widened to include all estates. Pre June 1, 2005 estates can only access this amnesty to the end of December 2005.
After that date the taxpayer will be required to pay the estate tax based on the old rate which could be as high as 15% depending
on the value of the estate. The assessed amount will also attract interest at the rate of 6% per annum until paid.