City reviews property tax deadlines in light of COVID-19 impacts

City reviews property tax deadlines in light of COVID-19 impacts

After reviewing property tax due dates, city council has decided to keep deadlines in place for all property taxes, however, commercial properties will have an extended period of time to pay without penalties because of recent changes enacted by the province.

All property taxes are due by July 2, but late penalties apply the next day to residential, utility and farm properties only. The provincial government recently announced that commercial properties — light industrial, business, recreation/non-profit — will have an extension on late penalties up until Oct. 1, 2020.

Additional measures recently announced by the province for commercial property tax relief include reducing the school tax rate, which will result in a tax savings of approximately 11 per cent for a typical commercial property in Cranbrook, according to city staff.

The city says it is strongly encouraging all property owners — including businesses — who can pay their property taxes, to pay by the July 2 due date. Maintaining cash flow is key for the city in order to meet financial obligations, according to Charlotte Osborne, the Chief Financial Officer for the City of Cranbrook.

“As about 62.5 per cent of the City’s operating costs are paid for by tax revenue, the timing of the receipt of that revenue is very important,” said Osborne, in a news release. “The City has several large contractual obligations including remittances to other public authorities, that have been structured for payment after July 2nd.

“The City needs to ensure that adequate cashflow is available to meet those obligations and to continue to fund operations for, not only the next six months to December 31, but also to fund operations for the first six months of 2021.”

“Keeping with a property tax due date of July 2nd and penalty date of July 3 for non-commercial property owners and incorporating the Provinces October 1st penalty date for commercial property owners, will help to minimize risks to the City’s cash position and ensure its financial sustainability.”

The city’s review of moving tax due dates was prompted on request by council two weeks ago, which had asked staff to prepare a draft bylaw deferring the tax due date beyond the beginning of July. However, that proposal went contrary to recommendations from city staff.

“Implementing an alternative tax collection scheme at this time could result in risk to the City’s ability to fund the delivery of services, meet it’s contractual financial obligations, and deal with potential emergencies such as flood or wildfire events,” reads a staff report.

If anyone has questions about property taxes, contact the Finance department at 250-489-0233 or by dialing 311. Property tax notices are expected to be mailed out by mid-May.

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