Residents of the Old Capital now have additional means of meeting obligations to the Belize City Council for trade licenses collected every December and property taxes collected by the start of the new financial year in April. Previously, residents had to either wait in line at City Hall on North Front Street or dodge the tax man, but the Council has opened a new online payment option through Atlantic Bank. Residents can now pay by credit card or via cash at the three Atlantic Bank branches in Belize City. According to Director of Finance for the Council Marilyn Ordonez, this option was created as a means of responding to residents living outside of Belize who wanted to easily meet their obligations.
“So it’s an innovative move to facilitate our clients and partnering with Atlantic Bank we are reaching out to those not only at home but abroad because we have many of our clients who always call to find out how I can pay my taxes without having to go through a third person or without having to come in to the office. So we are facilitating that and as we said, Atlantic Bank is very dynamic, they have been spurring us on and we are moving with them. We also want to advise clients that in order to stay dynamic, we will also facilitate them to assess their taxes through the GIS facilities that will be coming shortly. We are empowering our residents to access their property tax payment, we already have their bills, everyone who has been assess to property tax, is already on our sight and now they can pay their bills online. “
Property taxes are the single largest source of revenue for the Council, reported at approximately $9 million in the last financial year audited. The Council already has optional renewal of drivers’ licenses online but according to Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley, both residents and the Council benefit from incremental advancement in making more services by the Council available online.
Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City
“It is an amazing thing that we are at this point today. We are talking about taxes but in a much more wider sense. We are talking about an approach that the City Council really believes in to make governmental services easier for people to access. A couple months ago when we launched the online divers license renewal. So a person may not even come into the City Council offices to renew their drivers licenses. I can speak to the fact that we put all the tax notes online. So if you wanted to check how much your property tax or trade license bill is, you can check that online,
For online payments you need your credit card and the tax number and customer number available on your bill. Discounts for early payment in full still apply. Atlantic Bank’s Director of Banking Payments, Pedro Lozano, spoke of the ease of security occasioned by this method of payment, which limits access to information for would-be identity thieves.
“In reference to the transportation of payments from their website to our website, from the moment it leaves your system, it becomes encrypted. It is an international standard encryption that I cant say it can’t be opened, but it will take quite some time to be able to open that password. So is encrypted and it comes to us, then we have the other part of the keys that will open up the encryption in a safe environment. I cannot speak for security reasons, but it goes on a secure environment where we have firewalls and everything that will stop anyone that is not autorized to your information. So it is secure.
The service is now online and available.