Calgary city council approves break on penalty for owed taxes

Calgarians late on their property taxes will be getting a much-needed break during the coronavirus pandemic.

Calgary city council voted unanimously Tuesday to charge just a 3.5 per cent penalty on back taxes on Oct. 1. The penalty is usually seven per cent.

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City of Calgary tax manager Michael Perkins told council that residential taxpayers pay roughly $700 million to the city, with businesses paying the same amount.

“As of Friday, Sept. 11, the percentage of residential payments exceeded 70 per cent and the percentage of non-residential payments exceeded 42 per cent,” Perkins said.

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Despite nearly $647 million in property tax payments still outstanding, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s confident much of that money will be paid closer to the deadline.

“I won’t be super concerned until after Sept. 30, because a lot of people will wait until the last minute to pay,” Nenshi said.

Administration suggested the 3.5 per cent amount when considering the city’s borrowing costs, rate of return on investments and retail borrowing interest rates, with council’s aim to get homeowners to pay their owed taxes. Council also considered the fact that non-payment of taxes could put some in technical default of their mortgage.

In April, council approved a complete suspension on penalties for July 1. In previous years, the city charged seven per cent on back taxes at the beginning of July.

Despite the relief effort, Nenshi encouraged residents who are able to pay their taxes to do so on time.

“I am very pleased that council chose to provide relief for struggling taxpayers; ultimately, we would still like everyone to pay their taxes on Sept. 30,” Nenshi said.

“But for those who really can’t afford to do it, we’ve cut the penalty in half, so that’s a little bit less of a burden on peoples’ shoulders.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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