QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,
I like your articles. Can you help me please? I paid somebody monies last month to apply for a title for my land which was surveyed at 63 acres in the upper Red Hills area. It is being cut from a bigger portion of land. My representative whom I gave power-of-attorney told me the National Land Agency bounced it because he had put four million dollars as the value of the 83-acre piece that we seek title for. Can this really happen? I feel that those Jamaicans believe that we in the United Kingdom have a lot of money, so they feel we should pay a lot of taxes. The figure that was used is based on the value that is on the tax certificate that was prepared when all the taxes were paid up.
Your story is very likely, and owing to the issues therein, an attorney’s assistance is strongly recommended. However, as you have decided against contracting an attorney, you and your representative should do some groundwork before you continue or even resubmit the application.
There may be other reasons for the application being bounced such as the documents that were submitted. You are writing specifically about your concern you have over the Agency rejecting your claim that your 63-acre land is valued at four million dollars.
Based on what you said, the assessment officer would have rejected any claim that any land, measuring that size, in that area, would be worth just four million dollars. Land is one asset which more often than not appreciates over time. The section of Red Hills where your land is situated is now very developed and values far more than it did in the year your land was valued to determine how much tax would have been paid on the larger land, before any cutting off.
They (titles office department) usually attach an overleaf with a list of what needs to be done or corrected, when an application is bounced or rejected.
They should have explained to you or your representative the need to do a valuation as the tax certificate reflects the value of the land when there was a first application to pay taxes a long time ago. Additionally, the certificate to be shown would have been the certificate for the larger piece of land, before your land was cut off.
Usually applicants double the value on the tax certificate to be on the safe side, but the final decision is still left up to the assessment officer. The assessment officer has all rights to question any claim even when an official valuation certificate is submitted. Assessment officers usually visit the area as a part of the application process.
You did not mention that your documents were submitted to the Stamp Duty & Transfer Tax office beforehand. Its likely that you would also need to submit proof that transfer tax was paid up as it relates to your situation.
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