Property owners in Burns Lake can breathe a sigh of relief with the council extending penalty deadlines for current year unpaid property taxes.
The village council, in a meeting last week have set the dates for levying penalties on unpaid property taxes for 2021. This year, instead of the provincial deadline of July, the date set would be 5 per cent on current year taxes unpaid by Oct. 2 and an additional 5 per cent on current year taxes unpaid by Dec. 31.
As per Section 235 of the Community Charter, the council is able to set due dates and penalties that are different from the ones established by the province.
In light of the pandemic, last year the council voted to postpone the penalty dates for all property classes to 5 per cent on current year taxes unpaid by Oct. 2, 2020 and an additional 5 per cent on current year taxes unpaid by Dec. 31, 2020. The council had done this to ease the financial burdens on the taxpayers due to the economic strain brought on by the pandemic.
According to Sheryl Worthing, the village chief administrative officer, “the penalty postponement reduced the total penalty levied on all properties by $7,652 compared to 2019. It also gave more time to the property owners to pay taxes without the addition of penalty burden.”
In 2019, the total penalties levied amounted to $30,811 as opposed to $23,159 in 2020.
However for the Village, despite the postponement, the percentage of property taxes collected by the end of the year was 2 per cent lower in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2019, a total of 88 per cent taxes were collected by the July 2 deadline while 94 per cent had paid their taxes by Dec. 31. In 2020 however, by the end of the year on Dec. 31, 92 per cent property taxes was collected.
This prompted the council to first gravitate towards voting against continuing postponement of penalty dates. The options on the table were either to have the 2021 penalty dates remain as established by the Province i.e. a 10 per cent on current year taxes unpaid by July 2, 2021 or to postpone the penalty dates.
While the council was initially split between the two options, they eventually chose to postpone.
“This postponement will buy the property owners more time to pay their taxes without penalty burden, during these uncertain times still prevalent to COVID-19,” said the village.