Home Owner Grant - move to electronic and penalty adjustment

1 - Move to electronic HOG only. We want to accept home owner grants online only starting in 2020 (we'll provide notice of this move on the 2019 tax notice). We're hoping that with a year's notice, and ensuring that we have online access available for residents at City Hall it will be a smooth transition. Has anyone else made this change recently? What was the general reception in your community?

2 - We considering reversing the penalty on late home owner grant (e.g. grants submitted between July 3 and September 1 in the current year); does anyone else follow this practice? If so, do you have an alternative tax collection scheme (bylaw) in place to support this?

Appreciate any feedback.

Thanks,

Jenn Hepting
City of Colwood

Comments

  • edited April 1

    City of Vancouver made the change to only accepting HOGs online for tax year 2018. My understanding is it went quite well; however with their resources it was likely an easier switch (they have a 411 call centre for example).

    As for your proposal to reverse penalties for grants received between due date and Sep 1, do you have an alternative collection scheme in place? We do not. I don't think there's authority under the charter to reverse penalties and it seems like a slippery slope to propose it. What about someone who claims on Sep 2? Why grant an extension to someone until Sep 1 but not one day later? Perhaps alternative collection scheme allows you to do so - I don't know much about alternative collection because we do not have this in place. I'd suggest legal advice from your solicitor before you make a change. As tough as the penalty is, the beauty of it is we have no discretion provided to us by the Province and thus that slippery slope is never an issue.

  • As far as I know, City of Vancouver is the first (and at this point only) city to go 100% online or over-the-phone for HOGs.

    At City of Abbotsford, we reverse the penalty on the HOG portion of taxes only if the HOG is submitted after the Jul-02 deadline, but before our 2nd penalty is levied on Sept-15. Here is a link to our bylaw: https://abbotsford.civicweb.net/document/2621 When taxpayers come in with later notices, it's nice to be able to tell them that we can reverse the penalty on the HOG. It's also good for taxpayers that have their mortgage company pay taxes, and they forget to claim the HOG until they get the reminder notice from us.

  • District of Central Saanich is going to electronic HOG claim only for 2019 following Vancouver's lead.
    We'll be working on our communications over the next few months with some additional newspaper advertising. The change in the agency rules makes it easier for people to get assistance and for us to help them as well. We'll be pumping up our phone and counter service to help folks through the change.
    We follow the Charter for penalties and are not considering an alternative tax collection method.

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