A motion to defer taxes for two low income property owners sparked a short discussion at Mount Pearl's public council meeting last week concerning the distinction between uncollectable taxes and deferred ones.
Earlier in the meeting, councillor Andrea Power had made a motion to write off some $4,171 in outstanding taxes owed by an unidentified property owner. "All efforts have been exhausted to collect this, so it was recommended to committee that we write off this balance," Power said.
Councillor Andrew Ledwell was then called upon to make a motion to defer taxes totalling some $3,601 for two low-income home owners. It led councillor Bill Antle to suggest that council should clarify for the benefit of residents what the words "tax deferral" really mean.
"It is a deferral to future years," said Ledwell. "It won't be paid right now because the taxpayer is not currently able to make that payment, but it will be deferred to future years and ultimately we will be able to collect once all is said and done and the taxpayer is in a position to be able to pay."
Councillor Lucy Stoyles added that in situations where a person's taxes are deferred and their house is sold, a lien would be in place against the house until the City is paid the outstanding property taxes.
Antle asked how many tax deferrals are in place.
Corporate services director Jason Silver didn't have that number at hand, but explained that deferrals are based on income levels. "It's not tied to just seniors," he added, "it's actually anybody whose family income would be between $30,000 and $40,000. And as councillor Stoyles pointed out, what happens is when the property is ultimately sold that's when the taxes would be collected, unless the taxpayer's circumstances change and they are able to pay (earlier)."