Council amends 2020 property tax penalty date to help ease financial hardship during COVID-19

Council amends 2020 property tax penalty date to help ease financial hardship during COVID-19

April 28, 2020

Council amends 2020 property tax penalty date to help ease financial hardship during COVID-19


April 28, 2020

West Kelowna City Council has unanimously approved extending the 2020 property tax penalty effective date from July 3 to October 1 for residents and businesses as an additional measure to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The property tax due date for both residents and businesses remains July 2, 2020. The 10 per cent late penalty for both residents and businesses starts on October 1, 2020.

Typically, the City would charge a 10 per cent penalty on any amounts owing the day after the property tax deadline. However, following provincial measures to provide property tax relief to businesses, Council has announced that the City will delay the late payment penalty for residential and commercial property taxes from July 3 to October 1, giving those who are experiencing financial difficulties more time to pay if needed.

“In addition to our relief efforts so far, postponing property tax late penalties until October 1 is an additional measure to help ease the financial hardship of COVID-19 to our community,” says Mayor Gord Milsom. “However, we are encouraging our residents and businesses who can best manage their cash flow during this unprecedented time to please pay their taxes prior to July 2. As the City also manages its cash flow during the implications of COVID-19, even paying a portion of their property tax prior to July 2 will help as opposed to submitting late payments. It is critically important for the City to balance the need to keep our operations and economy sustainable as we help our community.”

For example, the City issues many contracts and tenders each year to local companies for design, construction, programs and services. If a significant number of residents and businesses pay their taxes late, the City’s financial ability to keep the local economy moving forward becomes significantly more challenging.

Property owners are also strongly encouraged to apply for their Homeowner Grant as soon as they receive their property tax notice or they may be subject to a penalty on the whole tax bill if missed or submitted late. Homeowners should be aware of how to apply for a grant online, particularly with the challenges of using an Apple operating system. Google Chrome is the recommended Internet browser to avoid unnecessary challenges when submitting the grant application. The City highly recommends that applicants do not apply for their Homeowner Grant using a mobile device to ensure the grant is processed. More information is available on the City’s website at www.westkelownacity.ca/taxes.

The Provincial Tax Deferment Program also remains available for residents to consider with information provided online: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/defer-taxes. The program is very robust and will likely be available for the majority of West Kelowna residents.

The City has also waived the interest on overdue utility bills for the remainder of 2020, giving those struggling more flexibility to make payments for the services they receive such as water, sewer and curbside waste collection.

Council has also authorized up to $6 million in temporary borrowing to help cover essential services and priority operations to cover for any interim cash flow shortfalls caused by people not being able to pay on time.

The City encourages residents and businesses who can still afford to do so, to kindly pay property taxes and utility bills on time. This will ensure the municipality has the revenues needed to continue to provide essential and priority services.

Background information:

For full details on the City of West Kelowna’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.westkelownacity.ca/covid-19.

To date, the City of West Kelowna has taken the following steps to lower operational costs and to provide financial relief to residents and businesses:

  • Reducing the 2020 tax increase by two per cent, from 4.8 to 2.8
  • Keeping the tax deadline as July 2, but delaying the 10 per cent interest penalty on late payments to October 1
  • Waiving the late payment interest on utility bills for the remainder of 2020
  • Keeping municipal costs down by:
    • Reducing non-essential service levels
    • Discontinuing casual staff assignments
    • Limiting recruiting to only essential positions
    • Reassigning qualified staff to high priority work and essential services
    • Purchasing locally and supporting local businesses
  • Creating financial security for essential municipal operations
    • Obtaining temporary borrowing approval of up to $6 million to help cover costs if needed.

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