Is forgiving any interest due on tax arrears good policy or a dumb idea financially ? The city isn't exactly flush with cash these days

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 15th, 2020



The retail and hospitality sectors have been bleeding badly – they needed every break they could get.

For many rent and the hydro bill were the biggest nuts they had to deal with.

Many residents were finding that they were not always able to make the rent and city taxes were something they just had to put on hold.

The city jiggled the due dates on property taxes for the resident section which was a help.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward put forward a motion at a Standing Committee last week asking staff to set out what things would look like under different tax relief scenarios.

One was to set aside the policy of charging people interest on their outstanding taxes.

The Mayor argued that it just didn’t seem fare for those who were struggling to get by during the pandemic to have to pay interest on overdue tax payments. It was like holding people down financially and insisting on collecting interest on overdue taxes just so that the city could meet its financial commitments.

A little on the altruistic side but that’s part of where this Mayor comes from.

What happens then with the taxes owed the city by the two large shopping venue – Burlington Centre and Mapleview Mall.

The public learned last week that the two locations had not remitted taxes since mid-March but were expected to do so by the end of the month.

What if they decide it is just good business to hold on paying taxes and use the cash available to get their operations up to speed and pay whatever interest was due.

During the 2008 recession Burlington had a city Councillor who did just that – why shouldn’t the malls do the same thing.

Would the city forgive the interest for the large commercial operators or is this proposal to apply to everyone – the big corporate interests, the small business operations and residents?

Are there any unintended consequences lurking in that proposal.

Can’t see this one riding all that well on the stomach of the Director of Finance.

Finally, did the public have the right to know that the malls were late on their tax payments – or more correctly that they had taken advantage of a program the city put in place?

Related news story.

Tax collection dates shifted to ease the financial strain.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smile





Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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