B.C. businesses getting property tax break from province but not residents - InfoNews

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B.C. businesses getting property tax break from province but not residents

Finance Minister Carole James
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
April 16, 2020 - 10:03 AM

Commercial taxpayers will get a reduction in their municipal property tax bills of at least 25 per cent but residential property owners will still have to pay their taxes on time.

Finance Minister Carol James, at a news conference today, April 16, expanded on an earlier program that cut school taxes for businesses by 50 per cent to say they will get further breaks so their total property tax bills will be cut by 25 per cent.

While they are still expected to pay their taxes by July 2, late payment interest charges will not kick in until Oct. 1 for some classes of businesses. Normally the penalty takes effect July 23.

For homeowners, there are no similar cuts.

James was asked about extending a property tax deferral program to people other than seniors.

She said that program was for people over 55 and families so that covered about 70 per cent of homeowners. She also said 30 per cent own their homes outright and, therefore, residential tax payers did not need further assistance.

Property taxes are due July 2 but some cities, like Kelowna, have already postponed late payment charges until the end of August, effectively allowing people to delay paying until then.

That creates cash flow concerns for local governments.

To help them continue to offer vital services, three measures were announced by Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson.

Cities can hang onto the school tax portion of the money they collect from property owners until the end of the year. That will help with their cash flow since those monies normally have to be forwarded to the province by the end of August.

Secondly, they can borrow from reserves they have set aside for capital projects. That loan will be interest free for up to five years.

And they will be able to carry debt into next year.

Robinson said this is a first step in helping municipalities and she will continue to meet by teleconference with all mayors and regional district chairs each week.

“This is about working together to make sure that the people of this province can continue to carry on and make sure we have the police, and the fire and the sanitation and all those things that, quite frankly, many of us take for granted but local governments really are on the forefront of making sure our lives work well for all of us,” she said.

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