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False Immovable Property Tax declarations

There is evidence that a property developer has made false Immovable Property Tax declarations to the authorities, which has resulted in his customers receiving IPT notices from the Inland Revenue.

Immovable Property Tax FraudTHERE IS strong evidence to support claims that a Famagusta-based property developer has made false declarations to the Cyprus Inland Revenue Department in efforts to get his clients, who have yet to receive their Title Deeds, to pay Immovable Property Tax.

According to this letter from the tax department headquarters in Nicosia, in situations where properties has been developed and sold but the relevant Title Deeds have not been issued or in cases where Title Deeds have been issued but not transferred to purchasers, the owners (developers) should submit a declaration to the Director of Taxation before 25 August 2014 identifying all sales contracts that were in place on 1 January 2014.

(The Tax Department prepared a special on-line form for this purpose – Form Τ.Φ.317 2014 to be completed and submitted electronically.)

However, the letter goes on to say that in cases where the owner is a company in liquidation and in other cases where the delay in issuing Title Deeds is ‘the fault of the owner’, the requirement to complete the Form Τ.Φ.317 2014 does not apply.

A couple who bought a property built by a Famagusta-based developer twelve years ago wrote to me enclosing a copy of an IPT notice they had received from the Inland Revenue. The couple have been waiting for the Title Deed to the property, which they purchased (resale) more than nine years ago. Having investigated the situation they discovered that a Title Deed cannot be issued as the developer has failed to complete building the pavements, paths and roads.

In this case it’s obvious that the developer has made a false tax declaration as the responsibility for the delay in issuing deeds is clearly his fault.

As providing false data or information is considered a criminal offence subject to the provisions of Article 20 of the Immovable Property Law No.24 of 1980, this developer could face prosecution.

(In the US for example, tax evasion is punishable by five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.)

This developer has also managed to extract significant amounts of money from his clients by persuading them to pay the penalty payments imposed by the Inland Revenue on his company for failing to pay Immovable Property Tax by the due dates.

Recommendations

Anyone receiving an IPT notice from the Inland Revenue who does not have the Title Deeds to the property they purchased needs to find what is causing the delay.

Land Registry search will highlight mortgages and any other claims preventing the transfer of title and enquiries at the local Planning Office will uncover any planning issues preventing their issue – both of which will be ‘the fault of the owner’ (unless, in the latter case, the purchaser has made unauthorised changes to the property.)

If the delay in issuing Title Deeds to the property you purchased is ‘the fault of the owner’, I advise you to write to the Inland Revenue advising them accordingly so that they may deal with the reprobate.

Purchasers paying IPT

The letter from the tax department also calls on those who have purchased property and who have yet to receive their Title Deeds to settle their IPT obligations. The Inland Revenue has prepared a form for this purpose – Form 318 2014 (English & Greek)

You will note that you will need the T.I.C (Tax Identifier Code) of both yourself and the vendor (developer) – which means that you will need to get yourself registered on the Inland Revenue IT system. And you will need to provide your personal valuation of the property’s market value at 1 January 1980.

Readers' comments

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  • bob davies says:

    For the benefit of any other buyers who may have been conned by this developer, is name and shame not the name of the game.

  • Deanna says:

    By the way; love the graphic of the €50 note.
    I want one :)

  • Deanna says:

    Oh dear, I’m confused; thanks Nigel for trying to unravel this ‘who is liable’ question. That last para in the article seems to contradict everything written in the first part!

  • @stevie R on 2014/08/30 at 2:27 pm – Until this year it was always the registered owner (i.e. the person/company whose name is shown on the Title Deed as he owner) who is responsible for paying IPT to the Inland Revenue Department. In virtually all the contracts I have seen, the buyer is liable to pay all the taxes relating to the property from the date they accept delivery/take possession. So the purchaser is obliged to refund the developer the IPT he has paid on the property they purchased – see Refunding developers’ Immovable Property Tax for more information.

    This year, those who purchased property are liable to pay IPT to the Inland Revenue Department providing (a) the development company is not in liquidation – or (b) the delay in issuing the property’s Title Deed is due to the owner (the vendor/developer).

    All Immovable Property Tax and Capital Gains Tax relating to the sale of the property has to be paid before its Title Deed (and therefore its ownership) can be transferred to the purchaser.

    If the present owner refuses to pay the Immovable Property Tax and Capital Gains Tax, you’re in deep doodoo. Unless the purchaser or someone else pays the taxes, you’re stuck. And if the developer goes into liquidation you might as well put your head between your legs and kiss your backside goodbye.

    The system is complete madness – I agree 250%!!

    Incidentally, the developer cannot transfer the property to you when he gets a Certificate of Completion. The transfer takes place after the Title Deed to the property in question has been issued (the Certificate of Completion is needed) and the purchaser has paid the Property Transfer Fees – and the transfer is effected by the Land Registry not the developer.

  • @demetri on 2014/08/30 at 2:26 pm – If there is a building permit, there has to be a planning permit as you cannot a building permit without one.

    You will need the file/envelope number – your developer will know this.

  • stevie R says:

    Let me try and get this into simple English.

    If you purchase a property from a developer and a multi development site and you pay him in full. The developer is unable to obtain a completion certificate for various reasons (no road, footpaths etc) so he will not be able to transfer the property into your name and no title deed can be issued. Does the developer then become responsible for the IPT ???

    If the developer then manages to obtain the required completion certificate and transfers the property over to you but you are still waiting for your title deeds do you then become responsible for the IPT ???.

    If the second scenario is in place but the developer is unable to, or refuses to pay the IPT that has stacked up before the issue of the completion certificate it then becomes the responsibility of the new owner to clear this IPT debt before the title deed can be issued ???

    What a crazy system. Only one loser here, the purchaser. The inland revenue are going to get their money either way and the developer refuses to pay the back IPT debt without consequence.

    How come people are still buying properties on a multi-development site. It’s complete madness

  • demetri says:

    Hi all

    What would the case be if the developers project has been declined a certificate of final approval? Yet with the lack of info from the developer you cannot find proof of this?

    What if all you can find is a building permit, but no town and planning permit?

    I recall that by law developers are obliged to provide purchasers with these references, however these are often meaningless as in the case of a cert of final approval the municipal administration people ask for an envelope number where all notes pertaining to case are held, non computerised I was told and impossible to search thousands of envelopes manually they say.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Two aspects of this article jump out. First, a Famagusta-based developer prompts the rhetorical ‘anyone we know’? question. I would hazard guess that it is one of a number of developers in that area who are already very well known for various scams and court cases. Nigel, is it one of the already notorious developers?

    Second, although there may well be prima facie evidence of ‘fault of the owner’, without an unambiguous definition of fault and proof on this topic put out by the IPT authorities, at the time at which decisions and actions on IPT payment are made it’s all down to lay interpretation and competing assertions by purchaser and owner (developer). Most unsatisfactory and enabling, if not encouraging, dodgy developers to operate yet another scam.

  • Mike says:

    “There is evidence that a property developer has made false Immovable Property Tax declarations to the authorities”……… Sorry, just cannot believe this of our defenders of ethics, morals, social justice, honesty and integrity. I think this is a plot to discredit – surely, is it not?

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