Abbotsford scales back tax hike

City plans tax revenue increase of 2.12% rather than 2.97%

Abbotsford property taxes are going up a little less than previously planned in a move that leaves about $20 more money in the wallet of an average homeowner.

The City had planned to increase the amount of tax revenue it collects from taxpayers by 2.97 per cent. But on Monday, council approved a 2.12 per cent increase.

Staff said the change in the task was because of COVID-19-related “financial uncertainty” for residents and businesses.

A smaller tax increase will save each property owner a few bucks come tax time. The owner of a typical single-family house will pay about $75 more in taxes than last year (assuming the home’s valuation changed in accordance to the city-wide average). That’s compared to about $95 more at the former rate.

The precise change in one’s tax bill depends on how their property’s valuation changes compared to the city average.

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In total, the change is expected to reduce the city’s tax revenue by about $1.3 million.

For the last six years, the city has increased the amount of tax revenue it collects from residents at approximately the rate of inflation. Increases to the police budget had been slated to push this year’s tax increase slightly above that inflationary rate. The move to drop the tax ask will leave it below the rate of inflation.

The city also moved to waive penalties for the late renewal of business licences, halt interest charges on overdue accounts receivable, and stop charging returned-payment fees.

Those measures are expected to reduce revenues by about $50,000.

The province has already waived late-payment penalties for most classes of business property taxes. Those taxpayers now have until October to pay their taxes without incurring a penalty, although Mayor Henry Braun said those who can pay in July should do so.

“I think that our biz will cert appreciate this,” Coun. Sandy Blue said. “We know there’s a tremendous amount of hardship, not only in Abbotsford but around the globe, and finding ways we can help in places where we can is going to be very much appreciated.”

Late-payment penalties for homeowners haven’t yet been waived by the province. Braun suggested that may be linked to the fact that many people pay their taxes incrementally alongside their mortgage payments, so most residents have already paid the majority of their tax bills to financial institutions.

Braun said the city may proceed as planned up to July, see how many residents are able to pay their taxes, then consider whether to waive penalties.

“There are those who are going to struggle paying property taxes,” Braun said.

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