Winnipeg council votes unanimously to delay property, business tax payments

By | August 31, 2020

WINNIPEG — With deadlines looming, Winnipeg city councillors were back at city hall on Monday for an emergency meeting to discuss the extension of COVID-19 relief for businesses and homeowners.

In April, The City of Winnipeg agreed to allow homeowners and businesses to defer property and businesses taxes to help those who couldn’t afford to keep up as the pandemic battered the economy.

“Many Winnipeggers have had their household incomes or business incomes impacted,” said Coun. Scott Gillingham.

With many people and businesses still reeling financially from COVID-19, council voted unanimously to extend the deferrals.

Property taxes will now be deferred for two months, from September 30 to November 30.

Business taxes will be deferred for three months, from August 31 to November 30.

“This is a relatively low cost and relatively modest way in which we can provide assistance for Winnipeg businesses across all sectors,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

One sector which is hurting is the hotel industry, with many hoteliers pay both property and business taxes.

The Manitoba Hotel Association (MHA) said the extension is a relief as its members pay property taxes based on revenue from two years ago.

“We’re not performing as we were two years ago and that’s the tax bill that is in front of us,” said Scott Jocelyn, the president and CEO of the MHA.

While the temporary measure is welcomed, the industry worries about the economy into the winter and next year if provincial and federal travel restrictions have to stay in place.

“When are people going to be comfortable jumping on a plan and flying here, or going to an event when we can have events,” Jocelyn said. “So you know, to think that we’re going to be in a good spot by the end of the year, I’d love to be optimistic on that, but I think the reality is it’s going to be longer than that.”

For those who don’t need the tax extension, the city said it could use the tax revenue.

“Property tax owners, business tax owners who have not paid their taxes to this point, but who are in a position today to pay their taxes to please do so,” said Gillingham.

The motion to council estimates the extension will cost the city $1.75 million, and is needed due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

This would be the city’s second time delaying these deadlines. Earlier in the year, it extended the business tax payment deadline to Sept. 1, and the property tax payment deadline to Oct. 1.

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