An Open Letter to Sen. Blyden

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Hand Writing Letter
Hand Writing Letter

Editor’s note: Sen. Marvin Blyden, sponsor of the bill that is the focus of this letter, has pulled the bill from the Senate’s agenda due to the level of concern that has been voiced, and is holding a town meeting July 19 at the Legislature on St. John to hear voters’ comments.

Dear Senator Blyden,

This is in response to your proposed bill to quadruple property taxes for vacation rentals in the V.I.

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I am a 12th generation Virgin Islander and a licensed V.I. Realtor.

My questions and comments to you on this proposed legislation are as follows:

Questions:

How do you differentiate between vacation rental owners who live on island, pay taxes here, pay their business licenses, room tax, gross receipts taxes, homeowners and liability insurance from off island owner who’s sole purpose is using them for business?

There’s a lot of grey areas here.

Additionally, while those owners use them as businesses, there are many residents that also have vacation rentals solely as businesses and derive there income solely from their short-term rentals whose season is quite short, usually mid December – end of April, with summer/fall months basically inactive.

These rentals, whether locally owned or not, still bring much needed revenue to the V.I.

Their guests use local help to clean and maintain their properties, pay taxis, ferries, grocery stores, go to beaches, bars, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, go sailing, diving, snorkeling, pay admittance into the National Parks, take tours. These businesses pay taxes and fees, pay WAPA, buy water, require landscaping, plants, handyman services, buy and register cars here, buy gas, rent cars, support local businesses when buying new appliances, big and small, indoor or outdoor furniture, pay for phone, internet, cable TV, etc.

The list is endless.

Then there are those who dream of living here, warts and all, who are willing to buy a modest condo and rent to offset the expense while paying mortgage, HOA fees, homeowners and liability insurance and all of the above until they can fulfill their dream of moving here full-time that will be scared off from their dreams due to having their property taxes go up in addition to the already high costs associated with living in the USVI.

It makes it unaffordable.

Costs associated with vacation rentals is already extremely high. Some break even, some make a little profit, some don’t, for some it’s a write-off.

When taxes are raised, because our V.I. Government cannot seem to budget itself and continues to waste, misuse, misspend, mismanage and in some cases, outright steal our money and resources, it is not up to the taxpayer to constantly be forced to be the source of revenue for the government’s recklessness, dereliction of duty and fiscal irresponsibility.

What will happen is vacation rental owners, especially our local residents who depend on this meager income, will either attempt to sell their properties, convert to long term rentals, prices will go up on those that remain and our guests will look to the BVI and neighboring Caribbean Islands for a better value for their money.

Go ahead, kill another goose that lays a golden egg.

I am opposed to your proposed legislation.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Alana Mawson

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