LETTER: Being charged late penalties when one pays on time?
This week many Rossland taxpayers received notice that they owe the City a penalty fee for late payment of their property taxes. Several of us have found that out taxes were indeed paid on July 2. While the money left our accounts on that day, the City claims that it did not receive the money until July 3. Hence, a penalty of 10% of the taxes paid has been applied.
I have three issues with this.
- Firstly, according to at least one bank manager as well as to other payees, we have officially paid the bill as of the date the money is debited from our accounts, no matter how long it takes the money to get through the “clearing house” and into the appropriate account in the City’s name.
- Secondly, if we had paid using a cheque dated July 2, the City would not have received the money as early as July 3.
- And lastly, I have checked previous years’ statements to find that my payments (always set up for July 2 or earlier) went out as late as July 5, with no penalty.
This amounts to a penalty for using online banking. It does not result in the City going without money it would have otherwise had. It does not apply to delinquent taxpayers. The penalty has not been applied in this way in the past. Furthermore, any penalty should fit the crime. If we actually were one day late in paying, is a fee of $100-1000 reasonable?? I think not.
The City staff says that neither they nor council can change the rules that have resulted in these late fees. They are not interested in which of the “late” payments were debited from the taxpayers’ accounts on the due date.
They claim that a day’s grace is contrary to legislation, yet other municipalities allow this. I will pursue the issue, and would be happy to hear from any other citizens interested in fighting the penalty rather than paying it. Hopefully whoever is in office later this fall will see the ridiculousness of these charges, and help to find a way to fix the system.