PENTICTON - Most places of worship are safe from the tax-man for the next three years but the Salvation Army will have to pay a tithe.
The city removed nine not-for-profits off its tax exemption list and cautioned these and all other groups lucky enough to still receive the exemption "gift" to budget with caution.
The Salvation Army will have do to some math as its church at 2469 South Main will be tax free but its thrift store and food bank buildings will not.
A Salvation Army official, who would not provide a last name, said the church will be looking to appeal this decision.
South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society was also on the list and its CEO Patti MacAhonic will also be appealing the decision at the Oct. 21 city council meeting.
MacAhonic was surprised but after a conversation with a city official she expects the society will be granted an exemption. The city's choice to take nine groups off the tax exemption list was based on them having $100,000 or more of working capital.
MacAhonic said most society funding is earmarked for programs and is not for discretionary use. And the services the society provides, finding homes for the homeless and working with injured individuals, cannot be matched by another program.
"For government to replace those services there's no way they'll come close," she said.
Some of the other groups taken off the list are the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 4281 and the Penticton Senior's Drop-In Centre. The total amount of taxes the city could collect from these, pending appeals, would be $27,563.
The amount of taxes the city will not be collecting from groups on the tax exemption list will be $392,856. This includes places of worship as well as groups like the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society and the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.
At Monday's council meeting, Coun. Helena Konaz said she's surprised some the these organizations will be off the tax exemption list.
Acting revenue supervisor Deb Clipperton said groups are warned every year tax exemptions might not be granted and to budget accordingly. She pointed out the brain injury society and the Salvation Army were given tax exemption status last year.
Mayor Garry Litke said Penticton is being very generous with its tax exemptions.
"It is a gift from the city," he explained. "It is a significant amount of money (and) it's a couple of points of taxation."
Coun. Andrew Jakubeit said those looking to appeal had better do it soon, before Oct. 31. Appeal requests in November will be rejected.
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