Why does GRA no longer give mortgage interest relief to first-time home owners if they don’t have taxable income?

Dear Editor,

Why, in Guyana, is age the determining factor in the assessment of a person’s ability to properly function? It seems that senior citizens are relegated to areas of sufficient uselessness to make them virtual nonentities. And this discriminatory factor is to be found especially in all sectors of local commerce and everyday interactions. You start a conversation with a total stranger, and one of the first things they ask you is your age. And then there is the condition of services. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) no longer allows first-time home owners mortgage interest relief if they no longer have taxable income. The relief was originally intended to partly offset the high charges of interest paid by new home owners to their lending banks, and was a major relief to seniors with limited income. This meant the monies in the homeowner’s pockets could be used as a repayment of their loan, and had nothing to do with taxes. Is the GRA saying you are no longer a valid home-owner if you no longer have taxable income? Isn’t interest paid on a loan, a tax, of sorts?  And then the lending banks, especially the one that claims that they are the one for you, the first thing they ask you is your age, followed by your income. They seldom ask about your assets, or your ability to repay.  In reality, income is a pseudo guarantee of an individual’s ability to repay. Income today may not be income tomorrow. No intelligent person buys a book they cannot read; would they therefore take a loan they cannot repay? In dealing with banks in Guyana there is a confrontation with stringency that stifles true progress. Understandably, a lender must be assured of the borrower’s ability to repay, but also, all factors in an application should be examined. There are seniors with qualifying assets, and they should not be subject to generalisations. I have the privilege of informing those who are guilty of ageism, that if fortunate, they too will live to be exposed to its prevalence.


Yours faithfully,

Jorge Bowenforbes


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