Hubbard County taxpayers will have additional time, if needed, to pay property taxes due in 2020.
On Tuesday, the county board voted to remove late penalties for all applicable property classifications between May 16 to July 15.
County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Rave said, “I am in support of a 60-day penalty waiver, as I refer to it. I would continue the same schedule for my settlements and then do a final settlement, if it goes through July 15, then I would do one by July 30.”
Board chair Char Christenson noted that commissioners, “statutorily, cannot change the date the taxes are due. What the county has authority to do is work with the penalty and interest portion.”
The resolution states the county “desires to provide temporary relief to its residents and businesses within the county that have been directly or indirectly impacted by the economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” and “recognizes that, as a result of unemployment, lost or reduced wages and the loss of business income, the prompt payment of property taxes will be a major economic pressure for many county residents this year.”
The resolution goes on to say that “imposing the full penalty for late payment of property taxes in 2020 would be unjust and unreasonable” and that partially abating the penalties “furthers the economic interests of the county, its residents and business owners.”
County commissioner Dan Stacey voiced his support of the resolution. “To pay the taxes is a trickle-down effect,” he said. “It affects everybody – from residents, the school districts and whatnot. On the same token, there’s a lot of hardship out there and if we can do our best to give them an opportunity to pay their taxes in full, without the penalty for that short period of time, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Stacey asked if the waiver applies to commercial properties as well.
“Yes, this covers all properties,” Rave said, “so it’s as fair to the taxpayer as we can get.”
Nerness noted that there is one exception. The county will accept and require escrow payments as scheduled for the May 15 and October 15 due dates. The waiver also does not apply to electric and gas utilities, pipelines, distribution substations and all properties with state-assessed values and leased property that pay real property taxes in Hubbard County.
The abatement is “really tailored to individuals who own properties, whether residential, seasonal or commercial, or have a business in Hubbard County,” Nerness said.
County commissioner David De La Hunt pointed out that the resolution encourages those who do not need extra time to pay their property taxes to do so as soon as possible.
“Again, as Dan alluded to, schools, townships and city governments all depend on this revenue, and if it’s delayed, it’s going to cause a cash flow issue for all entities. So if you have the wherewithal to pay it on time, please do so,” De La Hunt said.
County commissioner Ted Van Kempen asked if interest will still be charged on late tax payments.
Rave explained that interest doesn’t begin until Jan. 1 of the following year. “We will only be in a penalty phase and that is what we are discussing waiving,” she said.
Nerness also clarified that the county will not issue refunds of 2020 property taxes that have already been paid.
The resolution passed unanimously.