Saanich residents unable to pay 2020 property taxes on time face staggered late fees rather than a lump sum as council recognizes financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 27, Saanich council finalized the 2020 budget along with an annual property tax increase of 2.4 per cent – about $65 more than the average property owner paid in 2019.
The proposed tax increase was originally 7.2 per cent but was reduced to 3.74 per cent on March 31 when council agreed to a status quo budget in light of the health crisis. On April 20, council reopened budget discussions reducing the increase to 2.4 per cent by transferring fewer funds to the District’s capital reserve fund.
“We’ve tried to be as understanding as possible,” said Mayor Fred Haynes, adding council considered a zero per cent increase but there was concern over municipal services. With a 2.4 per cent tax increase, Saanich will still be able to provide essential services while minimizing the burden on residents, he explained.
Tax notices will be mailed to residents before the end of May and while the deadline for tax payment and submission of annual homeowner grant applications will still be July 2, those unable to pay on time face adjusted late payment penalties, Haynes explained.
The standard 10 per cent late penalty will be split up over several months for 2020. For most residential and farm properties, a three per cent penalty will be applied to taxes not received by July 31 and an additional seven per cent fee will be applied to taxes not paid by Sept. 30. A fee of seven per cent will be applied to most business and industrial property taxes not paid by Sept. 30 and an extra three per cent will be added if taxes aren’t paid by Nov. 30.
This adjusted penalty plan is “gentle on people’s purses,” Haynes said, pointing out that council also agreed to temporarily do away with the penalty on late utility bill payments.
With municipal hall closed due to the pandemic, residents will not be able to pay their 2020 taxes in person. Instead, the District recommends residents pay through online banking, through their mortgage company, at their bank or through the various drop boxes outside municipal hall.
Payments can also be sent by mail in the form of a cheque along with the bottom portion of the tax notice. The payment can be mailed to Saanich Municipal Hall – 770 Vernon Ave., Victoria, BC V8X 2W7 – but must be received by July 31 to avoid a late penalty.
Haynes emphasized that residents able to pay their property taxes on time should do so.
Anyone with questions about payment methods or late penalties is asked to contact Saanich’s Property Tax Section at 250-475-5454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.