ALTHOUGH the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund Cyprus recently praised Cyprus for the progress it has made in the rescue program agreed with the Troika, (IMF, EC and ECB), a number of troika officials must be shaking their heads in disbelief on the issue of property taxation.
Yesterday, as parliament continued its discussions on numerous proposals to amend the Immovable Property Tax law, it was revealed that the Land Registry does not have precise ownership details for approximately 250,000 properties, making the collection of Immovable Property Tax on these properties this year impossible. According to the director of the Inland Revenue Department, George Poufos, this was due to old weaknesses in the system.
With a population of less than one million, it beggars belief that there could be a quarter of a million properties on the island for which the Land Registry does not know the true identity of their owners. Even if you allow for (say) 50,000 for properties purchased by non-residents who are lucky enough to have their Title Deeds, that still leaves the ownership of 200,000 properties to be correctly and fully identified – and their owners taxed (plus the many unregistered properties for which no building permits have been issued).