Late tax payments worth $1M in revenue

Municipality considers new payment options for late-paying homeowners

The number of Oak Bay homeowners who have overdue property taxes hasn’t increased this year, but it hasn’t gone down, either.

A total of 360 homeowners failed to meet the July 4 deadline for payment of their 2011 taxes. That’s nearly identical to last year, which saw 361 delinquent payments, a marked increase from 2009, in which 295 residents failed to pay by the deadline.

Despite the higher numbers in the past two years, Oak Bay’s municipal treasurer said the percentage of late payments is still relatively close to the average.

“Normally it’s around five per cent (of payments) outstanding after the due date, and the figures this year total 5.6 per cent,” Patricia Walker said.

The late payments amount to just over $1 million in unpaid taxes. The money comprises about 3.1 per cent of Oak Bay’s $34.3-million property tax budget. Failure to pay on time results in a 10-per-cent penalty being added to the outstanding amount.

Council is examining the possibility of restructuring the system so late payments received before Sept. 1 are only hit with a five-per-cent penalty, but the concern remains the fact that the payments are late in the first place.

“We send assessment notices out in mid-May and there are a number of payment options,” Walker said.

“There’s plenty of incentive to pay on time.”

• According to B.C. government figures, Oak Bay has the third-highest property taxes in the province. The residential taxes on a house of average value ($835,545) in the municipality total $5,598.

That’s the highest total on Vancouver Island and trails only West Vancouver ($7,111) and Whistler ($6,767) provincewide. However, the average Oak Bay house value of  ranks seventh.