Lethbridge city council approves reduction in late penalties for overdue taxes

Lethbridge city council meeting. Global News

LETHBRIDGE – Lethbridge city council has approved a reduction in late payment penalties for overdue taxes to better support residents challenged to meet their property tax payments.

The change was made Monday during a council meeting. A new interest rate of 12 per cent will be required on late payments, down from 18 per cent.

The city’s Tax Arrears Payment Plan (TAPP) is also available to those with overdue taxes and it will also see a decrease in penalties from a 10 per cent interest rate to six per cent.

The city says the 18 per cent interest rate has proven to be problematic and hopes by cutting the rate more people will be able to pay off their tax bills in a timely manner.

“We know the Alberta economy is in a downturn and although Lethbridge might not be as hard hit as other cities, we are mindful that it is impacting the entire province. Our city staff work very hard with individuals who are struggling to make their tax payments,” says councillor Rob Miyashiro.

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“By reducing tax penalties, we can be even more proactive in helping residents avoid the debt issues we see in these difficult times.”

The city estimates the reduction will reduce revenue by $190,000 per year but in turn will help more residents make positive gains on tax debt and prevent properties being put up for auction if taxes are left unpaid.

Changes will take effect for the 2016 tax year and are expected to help more than 2,000 property owners each year. Property tax deadline is June 30.

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