Some Mississauga residents eligible for property tax deferral

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If you cannot pay your property taxes on time because of the pandemic and latest lockdown, you might be eligible to have your payments deferred. 

At a Jan. 13 general committee meeting, Mississauga councillors spoke out in favour of launching an application-based property tax deferral program for 2021

The application-based program, which is different from the much broader deferral program the city launched during the first wave in 2020, will allow eligible residential and business property owners to apply to defer their property tax payments in 2021. 

As of Jan. 1, 2021, all regular property tax billings, collections, application fees and charges have resumed, including late payment charges. Those who are eligible for the new program can apply to have their payments deferred to Dec. 15, 2021.

At the meeting, Ward 10 Councillor Sue McFadden asked that other local leaders, such as MPPs serving Mississauga ridings, be informed of the program as well. According to McFadden, some MPPs previously told residents that the city could waive their property taxes entirely.

As of now, municipalities are not permitted to waive property taxes for an entire calendar year.  

At the meeting, councillors praised city staff for proposing a more targeted, application-based program rather than immediately deferring all payments to a later date. 

Gary Kent, Commissioner of Corporate Services, said that the city had to act more swiftly in March when the crisis was new. 

"In March, it was the right thing to do and it was a time of confusion. Had we not done it, we'd have faced criticism," Kent told council.  

"Only about 5 per cent of people needed it."

According to a corporate report, city staff have been monitoring the balance of taxes outstanding throughout 2020 and will continue to monitor in 2021. As of now, the balance of outstanding taxes billed and due by Nov. 30, 2020, was 4.88 per cent—slightly higher than previous years. 

To be eligible for the program, property owners will need to provide a COVID-related reason for their financial hardship such as extreme revenue loss, loss of employment, business closure, prolonged suspension of pay, insolvency and/or bankruptcy. Eligible property owners cannot have any tax arrears (property tax debt) prior to March 2020.

"As a municipal government, we are doing what we can to provide financial assistance to ease the burden on families and business owners who are facing financial challenges under the current circumstances," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. 

"We are doing the best we can to support our property owners by deferring taxes for those who need it most."

Those who are approved will still need to pay their taxes before 2022. 

"For those who are eligible for the program, the total taxes billed for 2021 would need to be paid by the due date. Applicants will still be able to make periodic payments throughout the year against the balance of taxes owing depending on their own financial situation," Kent said in a statement. 

"It's the responsibility of the property owner to ensure their 2021 property taxes are paid by Dec. 15."

If property owners owe taxes from 2020 or previous years, late payment fees will be charged until paid in full. Late payment charges on deferred 2021 taxes would not be applied until after Dec. 15, 2021.

The program will go to council on Jan. 20 for approval. Following council approval, applications can be submitted online beginning in February until March 31, 2021.

Cover photo courtesy of @idris.yyz

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