BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Landlords who cut or waive commercial tenants’ rent will be eligible for annual building tax relief of up to 50 percent, the home affairs minister announced on Monday.

Commercial building owners must cut at least 10 percent of their monthly rent for at least five months from August 1 to qualify for the tax deductions, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said during a COVID-19 press briefing.

The building tax cut applies to commercial property owners under the Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, Seria and Kuala Belait municipalities.

The minister said the tax relief aims to alleviate the financial burden of businesses that were hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19 in the second wave.

Similar to last year’s economic stimulus measures, the tax relief rates are based on the amount of property owners’ monthly rent cuts.

Landlords who reduce their monthly rent of 10-14 percent will have their building tax lowered by 20 percent.

Those who decreased their rent by 15-19 percent will get a tax break of up to 35 percent, while commercial building owners that cut at least 20 percent of their tenants’ rent can enjoy a 50 percent tax relief.

The building tax cuts are also targeted at helping specific businesses whose revenue were severely affected after they were ordered to shut as part of public health control guidelines on August 7, said the minister.

Businesses that operate the premises they own will enjoy building tax relief of up to 50 percent from August to December 2021.

The eligible businesses include gyms and fitness centers, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, beauty parlours and hair salons, internet cafes, leisure centres, cinemas, children’s playgrounds, daycare centres, driving schools, galleries, convenience stores and supermarkets, eateries, tailor shops as well as other retail stores.

Landlords with building tax arrears must also pay at least 10 percent of what they owed before they can apply for the tax cuts.

Property owners who have been granted tax relief are required to pay the building tax for 2021 and 2022 before the expiry of the period set by the Ministry of Home Affairs or risk losing out on the tax break.

However, private limited companies that own commercial properties will no longer be eligible for a building tax cut if they have already been offered a 50 percent corporate tax discount by the government for 2021.

Tax break applications must be submitted to the Municipal Department no later than April 30, 2022.

For more information, the public can contact the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department at 2232424 ext 120/ 7179900, Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Department at 3347300 and Tutong Municipal Department at 4221009/ 8117115.