Puerto Rico residential property owners who have yet to register their units with the Municipal Revenues Collection Center, or CRIM, have until mid-June to do so to avoid being the target of potentially significant fines, government officials said Monday.
During a news conference held at the CRIM’s headquarters, members of the government’s interagency team in charge of the campaign — Treasury Secretary Jesús Méndez, CRIM Executive Director Gloria Santos-Rosado and Government Development Bank President Juan Carlos Batlle — explained that Law 71, which mandates property registrations, gave citizens until May 13 to get the job done.
So far, nearly 11,000 properties have been voluntarily enrolled in the CRIM’s records since the effort began in February 2011, with nearly 3,000 more cases still pending, Santos-Rosado said Monday. Taxpayers who have not yet registered their properties have until June 12, 2011.
“Part of the problem of getting people to register really comes down to culture. Everybody leaves everything to the last minute,” Battle said.
To persuade property owners to register, the CRIM is offering a string of benefits, including the exemption of retroactive property taxes for a period of five fiscal years prior to January 2010 and of three years for payments on property improvements.
On the flip side, failure to register a property or its taxable improvements exposes the owner to a penalty equal to 10 percent of the tax determined on the property. Residential owners will also have to pay a $1,000 fine, while the punishment for commercial and industrial properties range from $5,000 to $250,000.
“There is residential, commercial and industrial real estate properties, as well as commercial and industrial improvements subject to taxes that are still unregistered at the CRIM,” Batlle said. “Government revenue would increase if we can get these properties registered and appraised.”
Last year, the government granted local taxpayers an amnesty to pay their property taxes without penalty, which as of December 2010, had shored up $80 million for the public coffers.
After the deadline is up, the central government will turn over the task of pursuing individuals who fail to register their properties to mayors, who have a better grasp on who owns what in their towns, Batlle said.
It is not clear how many properties are still unregistered in Puerto Rico, as the CRIM does not have an estimate.
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