The extended deadline for paying 2020 Red Deer property taxes is still two weeks away, but city officials are already feeling optimistic.
About 85 per cent of property owners have already paid their taxes, or enrolled in the pay-by-installment plan, said the city’s property tax controller, Roxane Preedin.
“It’s better than what we anticipated when COVID-19 first hit,” added Preedin. “I’m cautiously optimistic” that the balance of taxes will be paid by Sept. 30.
Last spring, city council reacted to Alberta’s slow economic recovery by approving a smaller operating budget for this year, with a reduced tax rate increase.
After COVID-19 hit in March, the property tax payment deadline was extended to the end of September from June 30, due to the impact of the pandemic on residents and the business community.
“We recognize many residents and businesses are facing additional financial challenges due to COVID-19,” said Preedin.
Municipalities depend on property taxes as their main revenue source to maintain facilities and programs.
Under provincial legislation, the city must also collect property taxes on behalf of Alberta Education and Bridges Community Living to pay for education and affordable seniors housing.
Historic data shows a very low number of Red Deerians fail to pay their taxes to the city. While 2020 is an exceptional year, Preedin isn’t anticipating a dramatic change.
If some people are unable to pay their property taxes in full by Sept. 30, they are encouraged to pay off as much as possible to reduce the late penalties that will start on Oct. 1.
A seven per cent penalty will be applied to any unpaid tax balances. (The tax deadline and penalties do not apply to property owners who pay monthly through the city’s tax installment plan.)
Preedin noted taxes can be paid by mail, through financial institutions, or in person at the Recreation Centre while City Hall remains closed.
Residents paying through financial institutions are reminded to allow three to five business days to ensure online payments reach the city before the due date. Those paying by mail are reminded that envelopes must be post-marked by Sept. 30 to avoid late penalties.
Red Deerians should anticipate longer wait times than usual at the Recreation Centre as physical distancing requirements have limited staffing capacity. To ensure safe distancing, long lineups may extend outside the facility.
For more information, visit www.reddeer.ca/tax or call 403-342-8126.