Property-rich Gozo minister's rental income falls in 2015

Tax returns of Gozo minister Anton Refalo does not list any form of rental income from his 16 properties.

Gozo minister Anton Refalo
Gozo minister Anton Refalo

Gozo minister Anton Refalo is insisting he has declared all rental income in his ministerial declaration to parliament, despite registering no form of such income in his tax return for 2014 earnings.

Tax returns obtained by MaltaToday show that in his tax form covering his 2014 income (filed in 2015) does not list any form of rental income.

The previous year, he declared €13,500 in rental income and a property maintenance reduction of €2,700. From tax returns dating since 2008, this was the only year in which Refalo declared rental income in his tax return, as provided to this newspaper by the parliament.

Refalo’s parliamentary declaration listed €13,500 rental income for 2014 and €7,200 in 2015 – a figure which may correspond to €7,400 in ‘professional income’ he declared in his 2014 income year, even though it is not listed as ‘rental income’ in the tax form

The rental income is related to part of a large number of properties he declared in his 2013 parliamentary declarations – no less than 16, comprising of at least 11 apartments in Gozo as well as two others in Malta, apart from various other residences, offices, and land.

MaltaToday requested that the minister, in the spirit of transparency, declare whether he had rented out any property before 2012, and to explain from which properties his €13,500 rental derived in 2013 – when he was made a minister – and whether he had rented any properties after 2013.

In his answer, Refalo refused to give details but referred MaltaToday to his parliamentary declarations, which for 2015 lists €7,200 rental income, but is not expressly stated as such in tax returns provided by the House of Representatives.

“As I have already explained, the rental income on the properties mentioned, including 2013 and 2014, were declared very clearly in ministerial declarations,” he said.

According to his parliamentary declaration for 2014 income, Refalo lists €13,500 in rental income while in 2015 he listed €7,200 – a figure which may correspond to what his 2014 tax form lists as €7,400 in ‘professional income’ even though it is not listed as ‘rental income’ in the tax form.

Refalo has been economical about the rental value of his individual properties.

But he said that up until 2012, the properties were in the hands of his parents, up until the death of his father at the start of 2013, when he inherited the properties.

“From then on, these rents were declared for tax, and the tax due was paid. This rental income was also declared in ministerial declarations I submitted from 2013 onwards.

Refalo has also declared a total of €693,000 in loans in his last parliamentary declaration in 2015.

Yesterday, The Times reported that according to tax returns for 2014 and 2015, Labour MP Joe Debono Grech had failed to declare his income from his 20-hour a week consultancy job for Anton Refalo.

In 2014, the 77-year-old Labour veteran declared an income of €51,200, derived from his honoraria as an MP and from two pensions. The same happened in his 2015 declaration, in which he declared an annual income of €56,867.

Although Debono Grech has been employed as a government consultant since February 2014, no income sourced from the position appears in his income tax declarations.

The Gozo Ministry has previously said that he was receiving a salary of “under €12,000 annually”.

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