Those in North Cowichan who are unable to pay their property taxes by the deadline of July 2 will likely be given a reprieve of two months.
Council gave the first three readings to a motion at its meeting on April 21 that, due to the ongoing financial uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, would see the penalty deadline for the payment of property taxes this year extended to Sept. 1.
That means that while the deadline for property tax payments will remain July 2, the 10 per cent penalty will not be applicable until after Sept. 1 for those unable to pay on time.
Last year, the province extended the property tax penalty deadline across B.C. from July 2 to Sept. 30 to give taxpayers some financial leeway during the pandemic.
Coun. Christopher Justice asked if extending the deadline last year had any mitigating effects for taxpayers.
Mayor Al Siebring said that in a typical year, well over 95 per cent of taxes in the municipality were collected by the deadline on July 2.
He said that, last year, approximately 60 per cent paid their taxes by July 2, but more than 95 per cent paid by the new penalty deadline of Sept. 30.
“Whether people decided to pay later because they couldn’t pay by deadline, we have no way of knowing, but no matter the deadline, the [vast majority] of the payments were made on time,” Siebring said.
As for feedback from the community on whether the extended deadlines were helpful, Siebring said that from his interactions with taxpayers, the initiative was much appreciated.
“Our biggest industrial taxpayer waited until five minutes before midnight on deadline day before paying their taxes,” he said.
The bylaw to extend the deadline for paying taxes will be back before council for adoption at its next meeting on May 11.
North Cowichan is considering a 2.5 per cent tax increase in 2021, with the final adoption of the budget expected before May 15, as mandated by the province.