If you have not already received your 2011 municipal property tax bill, it will likely be in your mailbox within the next few days.
The District of West Kelowna’s fourth property tax collection is underway with tax notices mailed out one week early for 13,000 parcels of land within municipal boundaries.
The reason for the early mail out was to avoid a possible strike by Canada Post workers that could have jeopardized delivery of this year’s tax notices.
Almost 95 per cent of the bills the municipality is sending out this year are for residential properties.
This year, property taxes are due before the close of business on Thursday, July 7 and can be paid through most financial institutions, by mail, courier or in person at the District of West Kelowna municipal office at the Mt. Boucherie Complex, 2760 Cameron Rd.
If property owners are unable to get to the municipal office during regular business hours, they can use the exterior payment drop box which is located on the wall to the right of the main entrance.
Taxpayers are asked to ensure their payment is placed in an envelope or stapled to accompanying paperwork and that submitted forms be completed in full.
Cash is not to be deposited in this drop box.
New this year is a possible increase of up to $200 in the annual homeowner grant, which is now called the Northern and Rural Area Home Owner Benefit, as West Kelowna has been deemed a rural area.
Property owners can claim the grant online through the district’s website at www.districtofwestkelowna.ca, by selecting Online Services and following the instructions.
Once the grant has been claimed, taxes can be paid online by selecting the link to appropriate financial institution and selecting “West Kelowna —Taxes” as the bill payee.
District financial officials say while every effort is made to ensure efficient operations during tax season, time delays can be minimized by taking the following steps:
• If claiming a homeowner grant, ensure the application that forms part of the tax notice is completed in full and signed before going to the tax counter.
• Homeowner grants must still be applied for regardless of the method of payment—whether taxes are paid through a pre-authorized payment plan or by a mortgage company. To avoid a 10 per cent penalty, ensure the grant is claimed by July 7.
• If paying by cheque, fill out the cheque in advance and include the tax roll number on the cheque.
Any current taxes not paid by 4:30 p.m., July 7, will be subject to the 10 per cent late payment penalty.
If unable to pay all taxes due, the penalty can be reduced by paying as much as possible and by claiming the homeowner grant by July 7. Postmarks will not be accepted as a proof of payment date.
In addition to collecting taxes for itself, West Kelowna is required to collect money for a variety of other taxing jurisdictions, such as the province (school taxes), the regional district, the regional hospital district and the B.C. Assessment Authority. While the total amount to be collected via the tax notices mailed out this year amounts to more than $43 million, only $22 million, or 51%, of the total will be retained by the municipality.