Saanich residents worried about paying their 2021 property taxes on time again face staggered late fees rather than a lump sum as council adjusted in recognition of the financial hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic.
During a Feb. 1 meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of a recommendation from the standing committee on finance and governance which called for the 10 per cent penalty for late taxes to be split over several months. The current property tax due date of July 2 remains, but a five per cent penalty will be applied for taxes paid after that date and another five per cent for payments made after Sept. 1.
Coun. Susan Brice, chair of the committee, moved that council agree to the alternative – with consideration of any special provisions that the provincial government may implement – to allow for “some degree of compassion.”
Due to the financial insecurity created by the pandemic, council also approved staggered late fees last April with the 10 per cent late fee split into a three per cent fee and a seven per cent fee. At that time council also asked that the standing committee on finance and governance make a recommendation for 2021.
Mayor Fred Haynes was pleased to see about 78 per cent of Saanich residents were able to pay their property taxes on time in 2020. This also allowed the district to continue to deliver the status quo services and move forward with infrastructure projects that contributed to economic recovery.
The adjusted tax scheme for 2021 will benefit residents concerned about being able to pay their property taxes on time, Haynes said. Per a staff report, the staggered penalties during the first year of the pandemic saved residents some $300,000 in estimated late payment fees. The current approach will also be consistent with the alternative tax schemes in place across the Capital Regional District which will, in turn, reduce confusion for residents.
The 2021 budget deliberations begin in March.