Dozens of Port Coquitlam property owners who haven’t paid their property taxes for two years will get an extra year to pay their back taxes.
Tuesday, council approved a bylaw change that would allow the city to delay its annual property tax sale for a year to relieve the burden of those in dire straits during COVID-19.
While people don’t usually lose their homes during the annual tax sale because they are often able to buy them back, it’s a threat hanging over 132 properties with outstanding taxes.
Typically, property owners delinquent in their taxes for two years as of Dec. 31 would see their properties go up for a tax sale in September at a minimum bid price equal to the amount of outstanding property taxes plus 5% and the land title registration fees.
The highest bidder — either equal to or above that price — will be declared the purchaser. If there is no bid, or no bid equal to the outstanding taxes plus 5%, the city will be declared the purchaser.
Once sold the property owner has one year to redeem the property by paying the outstanding property taxes plus any interest that has been charged.
Two properties In 2019 and four properties in 2018 were auctioned off and subsequently redeemed by their owners.
“It is rare for a property owner to not redeem the property and over the last twenty-five years no taxpayer has lost their home due to this process,” according to a staff report.
Delaying the annual property tax sale to Sept. 27, 2021 gives owners a longer time frame to pay their back taxes, however, the outstanding balance will continue to accrue interest.
The initiative is one of a number the city is implementing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While allowed by the province, the annual tax sale delay will require bylaw approval and public posting.
The goal is to reduce the burden on financially-strapped taxpayers during COVID-19.
“By extending the tax sale date until 2021 the city will provide financially distressed property owners an additional year to pay their delinquent property taxes,” according to a city staff report.