Corporate Policy. Approved by: Council on December 6, Report No.: F Effective: December 6, 2004

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1 Approved by: Council on December 6, 2004 Report No.: F Effective: December 6, 2004 Reviewed: March 30, 2012 Amended: Next Review: 2017 Note: Purpose: The guidelines contained in this policy serve to supplement the provincial legislation that governs these areas, especially for situations where provincial legislation provides a choice, allows for City/Treasurer discretion and for issues on which the legislation is silent. Policy Statement: Regular Tax Billings 1) A levying by-law passed by Council is required in advance of either an interim or final tax billing. 2) Interim tax billings are produced in January based on the assessment as per the assessment roll provided by MPAC and ½ the appropriate tax rates. 3) The tax bill will clearly identify the City, property, owner, state the demand date, calculated taxes levied and any arrears owing against the property. 4) Final tax billings are produced subsequent to the passing of the annual city budget and are based on tax rates established by by-law from the budget requirements of the City, Region and Ministry of Education. The billing will be calculated to produce a tax billing equal to the assessment times the appropriate rate, all local improvement charges and any special charges levied by the city. The tax bill will fully comply with the Standardized Tax Bill format as required under the Municipal Act, 2001.

2 5) The Municipal Act requires tax billings be sent to every taxpayer at least twenty-one calendar days before the first installment due date. 6) Arrears are included solely in the first installment due date amount. Installment due dates will be indicated on the payment stubs. Billing messages may be used on the face or reverse of the tax bill. Due Dates 1) Due dates for the payment of taxes are traditionally as follows: Interim Bill: February and April Final Bill: June and September 2) The specific due dates will be identified in both the Interim and Final Levy Bylaws for the City. 3) Where due dates are delayed as a result of factors beyond the City s control, they shall then be set with regard to the notice provision above. Supplementary/Omitted Tax Billings 1) There are two sections of the Assessment Act that allow for taxation of property not included in the annual assessment roll. They deal with omissions and additions to the roll. 2) Section 33 of the Assessment Act allows for the taxation of property that has been omitted from the roll. The provision allows for taxation in the current year, plus a maximum of the two preceding years. 3) Section 34 of the Assessment Act allows for the taxation of property that has increased in value due to the erection, altercation, enlargement or improvement of a building or change in use since the return of the last revised roll. These taxes apply to the current year only. 4) Supplementary and omitted tax billings will provide for two installment dates, generally within two consecutive months. Settlement of Accounts Page 2 of 8

3 1) Payment will be in the form of cash, cheques, money orders, bank drafts, preauthorized payment plans, internet and telephone banking made payable to the City of Burlington. Cheques which are post-dated will be accepted and held by the City. 2) Third party cheques will not be accepted. Change will not be returned for cheques accepted in excess of the amount due on the tax account. Should a credit appear on the tax account as a result of the payment, it will be applied to subsequent installments not yet due in the current year. At the request of the taxpayer, a refund cheque will be requisitioned, allowing sufficient time for the taxpayer s cheque to clear their financial institution. 3) If three cheques are returned N.S.F. on a taxpayers account, personal cheques from that taxpayer will no longer be accepted for a period of one year, unless they are certified. 4) Should payment of a tax account be tendered in U.S. funds, it will be accepted at the exchange rate established by the bank that day. 5) Payments are applied to the oldest year outstanding penalty/interest, and when it is cleared, to the oldest year outstanding taxes, then to the next oldest year outstanding penalty\interest, and when it is cleared, to the next oldest year outstanding taxes, etc. Collection Non Payment Remedies There are four basic remedies set out by legislation to promote timely payment of taxes as follows: Late payment charges Bailiff Action Rent Attornment Tax Registration/Tax Sale 1) Late Payment Charges Page 3 of 8

4 The rate at which penalty and interest is charged is set by By-law. Currently the rate is established under the provisions of the Municipal Act (sections 345 (1) and (2)). The City may review this rate each year. 2) Bailiff Action Under Section 351 of the Municipal Act, the City may issue a warrant to distain for property taxes if the taxes remain unpaid for a period of fourteen days after the installment due date. Further information regarding Bailiff Action is provided within this policy. 3) Rent Attornment Under sections 350 (1), (2) and (3) of the Municipal Act, the City may seize the rents of an income producing commercial property upon giving proper notice. It is a severe action and should only be initiated after the adequate notice. Further information regarding Rent Attornment is provided within this policy. 4) Tax Registration/Tax Sale Properties where any part of tax arrears are owing with respect to land on January 1 in the third year following the arrears are eligible for tax registration under section 373 of the Municipal Act. The property owner or interested party has one year from the date of registration in which to redeem the property for all taxes, interest and penalty outstanding, including any associated legal costs. A contracted tax registration firm may be used to process the required statutory notices/declarations. The administration fee associated with this process is in addition to the charges by the third party firm completing the required statutory notices/declarations. Refer to the Scale of Costs By-law) Registration is a last resort and should be avoided if possible by encouraging the ratepayer to either make full payment or a mutually agreed upon payment plan. It is imperative that the schedule for registration be adhered to. Letters and correspondence should encourage payment. It is only as a last resort or if numerous cheques are returned, that the property would become subject to tax registration. Page 4 of 8

5 Additional Collection Tools Corporate Policy The following additional tools are available to assist in the collection of tax arrears. Arrears notices Contra Form or personalized letters Telephone follow up Arrears Pre-authorized payment plan Interviews Title searches Interested party notification External Collection Agencies Farm Debt Mediation Form Steps and Timing of Collection Procedure 1) Interim Tax Notices are sent in January. Final Tax Notices are sent in May subsequent to the passing of the City s Budget and final levy by-law. Tax arrears owing at the time of the billing are included on each tax notice. 2) Penalty and interest are charged according to municipal by-laws (penalty first day of default and interest is charged on the first day of each month for all arrears). 3) Arrears notices are sent in the month following a due date and in December. The exception may be in May, due to time constraints as a result of final billing preparation. Notices are to be mailed not later than the 15th of the month. Arrears notices for $10.00 or less are not produced, as it is not cost efficient. Balances of less than $1.99 are subject to small balance write offs at the end of the year. 4) Any notice sent by ordinary mail is considered delivered to and received by the addressee unless the notice is returned by the Post Office or an error in the mailing address is proven. Failure to notify the Tax Office of an address change in writing is not a municipal error. Page 5 of 8

6 5) Contra The City of Burlington may apply amounts payable to a supplier of any goods and or services to any outstanding realty taxes owed to the City by that supplier. Notice of the latter will be given to the supplier in advance of the deduction or application of payment to realty taxes owed. It is the policy of the City that upon application for items such as but not limited to: building permits, lot grading, zoning, committee of adjustment, and planning applications that all property taxes levied against the property are paid. Failing such, applications will not be processed until taxes are current or satisfactory payment arrangements have been made. Vacancy rebates are applied to any tax arrears on the property account firstly, and a rebate cheque is issued on any excess. 6) Priority of tax accounts for collection is: i. Tax Accounts with three or more previous years outstanding. ii. Tax Accounts with two previous years outstanding. iii. Tax Accounts with one previous year outstanding. iv. Tax Accounts with current only outstanding. 7) For commercial and industrial tax accounts, which indicate two previous years taxes are owing, a collections letter is sent in the first quarter of the year to the property owner(s) advising of the tax arrears situation and asking for payment in full or mutually acceptable payment arrangement to be made by a given date in order to avoid Bailiff action. If acceptable payment arrangements are made, the account is monitored for compliance and follow up is done by telephone or in writing as required. The Bailiff may also attorn rents, if directed by the City. 8) For residential tax accounts, which indicate more than two previous years taxes are owing, a collection letter is sent in the second quarter of the year to the property owner(s) advising of the tax arrears situation and asking for payment in full or a mutually acceptable payment arrangement to be made by a given date. If acceptable payment arrangements are made, the account is monitored for compliance and follow up is done by telephone or in writing as required. Page 6 of 8

7 Scope: Roles: Corporate Policy 9) Satisfactory payment arrangements would be; joining the ratepayer defined pre-authorized payment plan or an agreed commitment to make set payments on prearranged dates via telephone or internet banking or in person. They could also provide a series of post-dated cheques. 10) If there is no success with the remedy under items 8.07 and 8.08 above, a title search may be undertaken in the Fall, to obtain information on any mortgage holders or interested parties. The mortgage holder(s) is then notified in writing advising that there are serious arrears on this property and payment in full is requested. A copy of this letter is also sent to the owner at the same time. In most cases, the mortgage holder will pay the taxes or ensure the property owner does. 11) If there is no response to 8.10, a cover letter advising that the first step to register the property for Tax Sale is commencing. A completed Farm Debt Mediation Form is attached and sent by registered mail to the owner(s). A copy is sent to The Farm Debt Mediation Services. This process is required under the Farm Debt Mediation Act. 12) If all efforts have failed to collect the tax arrears, a Tax Arrears Certificate is registered and the procedures according to the Municipal Act are followed. 13) Where a Tax Arrears Certificate has been registered on title, the Final Notice has been completed and mailed to the interested parties and no response has been received, the City may utilize the services of a Bailiff. This is a final resort to attempt to prompt payment of the cancellation or mutually acceptable payment arrangements. (An extension agreement may be required). 14) All costs incurred for collection to obtain information and/or collect tax arrears are payable by the property owner. (Title searches, Issuance of the Farm Debt Mediation Form as per Scale of Costs By-law ). Provides guidance to staff and provides a basis for decision making. Page 7 of 8

8 Accountable: Deputy Treasurer is answerable for the timely review, updating and dissemination of the policy in the functional area. Responsible: Coordinator of Collections/Tax Collector performs the work to achieve the task. Page 8 of 8

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