Property tax deadline approaching for Central Okanagan residents

The deadline this year to pay property taxes without a penalty is July 4.

Property taxes are due by July 4.

It’s tax time.

Property owners in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland and the two Central Okanagan Regional District electoral are being reminded that their 2016 property tax payments are due July 4.

While the province handles the issuance of property tax notices and the collection of taxes from owners in the Central Okanagan East and West electoral areas, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland handle their own collections.

In Kelowna, payments can be made up midnight July 4 without penalty:

• directly or by mail  at Kelowna city hall,(1435 Water Street, Kelowna BC V1Y 1J4) Remember only debit card,cash or cheques are accepted. Payment by credit card will not be accepted.

• Via online or mobile banking, as a bill payment (which is recommended by city staff )

• At drop boxes that are emptied nightly located at city hall’s  Water Street entrance, at the exit from the city hall parking lot on Doyle Avenue and, during regular business hours, at the Parkinson Recreation Centre (include the tax roll number on the cheque)

• At most financial institutions.

In West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, the deadline is 4 p.m. on July 4. Electoral area residents must pay their property taxes directly to the finance ministry in Victoria.

If paying at a bank or credit union, keep in mind you should bring their property tax notice and confirm whether the bank will submit the homeowner grant on your behalf. Many banks no longer process homeowner grant applications, even if they have done so in the past, says the city.

“Don’t forget to claim your provincial homeowner grant,” said Kelowna’s revenue manager Lynn Walter. “Depending on your age and your property, you can save up to $770 on your taxes every year. All you have to do is go online to complete and submit your grant application.”

Some residents, including adults aged 55+ and families with children, may be eligible for a provincial property tax deferment program.

Residents must check their eligibility, apply for the homeowner grant and submit their application to the City of Kelowna. It is recommended that interested residents apply early to confirm their eligibility.

Owners who are already in the deferment program will receive an authorized renewal notice from the province. Only these authorized forms will be accepted for renewal. For more information and to apply for deferment, visit kelowna.ca/propertytax.

In Kelowna, current taxes that remain outstanding after July 4 are subject to an immediate five per cent late payment penalty and a second five per cent penalty for outstanding taxes as of Aug. 3.

In West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, a single, an immediate 10 per cent penalty is imposed on taxes not paid by the July 4 deadline. Penalties are provincially legislated under the Community Charter and are not discretionary.

“Typically, municipalities charge one 10 per cent penalty,” said Walter. “The City of Kelowna has broken that down into two five-per-cent penalties, to give late taxpayers a break and an extra opportunity to pay.” The province also debides the penalty in two,with an immediate five per cent after July 4 and another five percent for outstanding taxes in November.

This year Kelowna will collect a total of $235 million in taxes, with $125 million of that going to the city. The remainder will be collected for other taxing authorities, such as the school district, regional district, regional hospital district, library and the B.C Assessment Authority. The annual property tax notice also includes user fees for services such as curbside garbage and recycling collection.

Kelowna sent out about 55,000 tax notices in late May and typically around 95 per cent of city property taxes are paid prior to the annual deadline. In West Kelowna, the number of taxpayers who pay on time is lower. Last year, only 88 per cent paid on time.

Earlier this year, Kelowna city council approved a 4.11 per cent hike in city property taxes for this year, meaning the municipal portion of the tax bill for an average priced home in Kelowna ($501,410) will be $1,861 this year.

West Kelowna mailed out 14,751 tax notices this year and is looking to take in just over $50 million in total. Just over $27.7 million of that will go to the city, with the rest to the other taxing authorities.