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Wed 22nd Jul, 20200

 

How to claim tax deductions in Trinidad and Tobago if you are a first time homeowner

 

Simply put, tax deductions provide extra disposable income, by reducing the amount of tax you pay. There are many expenses that the government allows you to deduct from your declared income, and being a first-time homeowner is one of them.

 

As of January 2015, you can reduce your annual income tax by up to $25,000. You can claim this tax deduction on the mortgage interest you pay for up to 5 years after buying or building your first home (provided the property was acquired on or after January 1, 2011).

 

Reducing your tax liability gives you more money to put towards other financial goals, so this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

 

There are two ways you can take advantage of this tax deduction:

 

BEFORE TAXES ARE DEDUCTED

Avoid excessive tax deductions from your salary in the current year

 

If you wish to claim tax deductions for first-time home ownership, you must

 

  1. Seek approval from the Inland Revenue Division by submitting your TD-1 form and with supporting documentation to the Taxpayer Section.

 

Required documents:

  • A pay slip from your employer, showing salary, gross income and taxes withheld.
  • A copy of the Completion Certificate for properties constructed on or after January 1, 2011 OR
  • A copy of the Deed of Conveyance for properties purchased on or after January 1, 2011
  • Proof of ownership of the property e.g. Mortgage/Title Deed
  • Certificate of Assessment
  • An original statement from a financial institution/affidavit confirming first time acquisition and date property was acquired. The property must have been acquired on or after January 1, 2011.

 

  1. Once approved, The Inland Revenue Division will issue a Certificate of Approval for PAYE Tax Deduction form

 

  1. Present the Certificate of Approval to your employer to guide tax deductions for the rest of the year. This will reduce the amount of PAYE that is deducted from your salary every month resulting in an increase in your take-home pay

 

AFTER TAXES ARE DEDUCTED

File a Tax Return in the following year

 

If you do not get your TD-1 form approved in advance, and you can still claim the tax deductions while filing your tax return the following year. Here’s what you should do:

 

  1. Complete the Tax Return form for the relevant year. You must provide supporting documentation along with your Tax Return form. These include:
  • The TD-4 from your employer, showing salary, gross income and taxes withheld in the relevant year
  • A copy of the Completion Certificate for properties constructed on or after January 1, 2011 OR
  • A copy of the Deed of Conveyance for properties purchased on or after January 1, 2011
  • Proof of ownership of the property e.g. Mortgage/Title Deed
  • Certificate of Assessment
  • An original statement from a financial institution/affidavit confirming first-time acquisition and date property was acquired. The property must have been acquired on or after January 1, 2011.

 

  1. The Inland Revenue Division will assess your tax return and determine whether you qualify for a refund of taxes already paid based on the PAYE deducted from your salary in the relevant year.
  2. If you qualify, you will be issued a cheque for the appropriate amount which you can deposit into your savings account.

 

 

Sources:

Ministry of Finance – Reducing Your Income Tax

Inland Revenue Division – Deductions and Required Supporting Documents, Income Tax Return

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Mon 20th Jul, 20200

As we touched on in our previous Getting Back on Track Home Smart blog, it’s important to adapt to the changing external environment in order to achieve your goals. Despite all the challenges that the global pandemic has brought, all is not lost for those who are still on their journey towards homeownership. If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch our ‘Buying Land” episode of the HomeSmart web series, here’s why it’s a smart move to buy land to get a head start on homeownership.

 

Why Buy Land

 

While many dream of moving into a turn-key home right away, it may actually be more manageable (and achievable) to make progressive steps instead i.e. buy land now and build your home later. After all, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Since land is an appreciable asset, its value increases over time so there is absolutely no harm in buying it upfront and allowing time to pass so you can save up to build your home, your Rome, exactly as you want it.

 

How to Buy Land

 

When deciding on what plot of residential land to buy, you must ensure that the developer or land owner has gotten the relevant land and building approvals so you can build your home on it when the time comes. Specifically, the land would need to be approved for development by the Town and Country Planning Division and the relevant Municipal Corporation according to where the plot of land is located.

 

Before you sign on the dotted line to buy the land, be sure to conduct a registered land title search to confirm that the seller indeed owns the land, verify the boundaries and ensure that there are no charges or liens on the property. Remember, this is a long-term financial commitment, so you’d need to have all the facts so you can make wise decisions. Land that has all the requisite approvals may be more expensive, but being deliberate in your search would save you a lot of stress and time in the end when you are ready to build your dream home.

 

When to Buy Land

 

There is no better time than the present to get started! As the saying goes “Land doesn’t spoil”. Typically land prices tend to increase over time, so it makes economic sense to buy while you can afford it, as the same plot is likely to become more expensive as time goes by. If you act quickly, you could even buy land in up-and-coming communities which may be tougher (and pricier) to get into later on.

 

We’d be happy to help you

 

We can help you start your homeownership journey with up to 90% financing for the purchase of residential land. Once you have gathered all the relevant documents, you can apply online to get a Pre-qualified Certificate for the amount you need to borrow to get started. We’d be happy to take you from here…to home!

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Thu 25th Jun, 20200

It’s hard to deny that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on our daily lives. As we all adjust to the realities of this unique situation, we should not lose sight of continuing to work towards our financial goals. Here are some helpful tips on how you can move forward:

 

ACCEPTANCE and Re-focusing

 

A popular prayer says

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This is very apt advice when reviewing your finances. Take stock of the elements that are within your control and the ones that are not. For example, you may have little control over whether your salary is increased within the next year but you can definitely control your household expenses going forward.

 

When you think about it, it really doesn’t serve you to dwell on things that you can’t change as this may only result in anger, bitterness or hopelessness. Instead, focus on where you can make the greatest impact and recognise that you have the power to direct your path with a change in outlook.

 

PATIENCE and Adjusting Timelines

 

It’s true that many of us have suffered financial setbacks. But, it’s helpful to remember that that’s part of life. Sometimes – things don’t always work out as planned. Instead of worrying about not being able to meet the deadlines that we had set for ourselves pre-COVID, we should be kind to ourselves and re-adjust our expectations post-COVID.

 

Take a fresh look at your goal timelines and make the necessary extensions. Perhaps, you may not be able to buy your first home before turning age 30 like you wanted to. That’s okay! It’s normal to feel disappointed or disheartened but recognise that life is not a sprint and it’s better to keeping moving forward rather than to give up half-way through the marathon. One of your greatest gifts as a human being is to adapt and thrive in any circumstance. You can still achieve your goals, just give it more time.

 

Getting Down to Business

 

It’s important to always have a clear view of your financial position, especially as it relates to debt. Make a list of outstanding bank loan amounts, credit card balances and even personal loans from family and friends. Knowing how much you owe would help you to work out a reasonable monthly payment plan to slowly chip away at your debt. It’s also worthwhile to consider debt restructuring or applying for concessions with your loan provider(s). Be humble and ask for assistance if you need it, even before the situation becomes dire. You will thank yourself later for being proactive. It’s a good way to avoid the stress of having to make tougher, more unpleasant decisions when potential problems are left unaddressed.

 

Keep Saving

 

Don’t forget savings! Have a clear view of the important, major expenses you expect to make in the upcoming months and put aside money for them. Remember to regularly contribute to your emergency fund, if you can. As we’ve learnt recently, while life is unpredictable, it certainly favours the prepared.

 

We’re Here to Help

If becoming a homeowner is one of your goals, we can help. Your first step towards homeownership is to undergo a prequalification assessment. Learn more about the prequalification process on our website and when you’re ready, request an interview to be assessed.