The Kane County Treasurer, Mr. Rickard, recently presented a proposal to provide relief for taxpayers during the COVID-19 crisis. In a formal presentation to the executive committee, he outlined the challenges faced by the county in collecting property taxes and the need for measures to address these issues. In this article, we will discuss the main points of the treasurer’s proposal and its implications for taxpayers.
Challenges with Property Tax Collections During the Crisis
One of the primary concerns raised by the treasurer is the health and safety of both staff and citizens during the collection process. With the need for social distancing and restrictions on public movement, collecting property taxes in person becomes a challenge. This situation could potentially slow down the process and limit mobility for taxpayers.
Moreover, the current economic crisis has resulted in disruptions for the financial markets, affecting individuals and businesses. Many seniors rely on reserve funds to pay their property taxes, but these funds have been severely compromised. Additionally, small businesses, restaurants, and retailers have experienced a significant drop in revenue, making it difficult for them to fulfill their tax obligations.
Furthermore, there are restrictions on property tax payment options, with some local banks no longer accepting in-person payments. This poses a problem for those taxpayers who prefer paying in cash, as they may struggle to obtain funds from financial institutions and make payments.
The Treasurer’s Recommendation for Tax Relief
Mr. Rickard acknowledges the challenges faced by taxpayers and proposes a solution to provide relief without significantly impacting taxing districts’ ability to fund services, particularly during this crisis. The recommended relief consists of waiving the county’s interest penalty for 30 days, allowing taxpayers an additional 30 days to make their June 1st installment payment without incurring any penalties. Normal interest revenue collection would resume on July 2nd.
To ensure effective communication, the treasurer plans to include an advisory notice with tax bills, explaining the payment options. This notice will be provided in both English and Spanish, and the county’s website has been updated to make information available in multiple languages.
Why this Recommendation?
The treasurer’s recommendation aims to strike a balance between providing relief for taxpayers and ensuring the financial stability of taxing districts. Changing property tax due dates could disrupt the payment cycle and create difficulties for mortgage lenders and title companies, which are required to pay property taxes based on the original due date. By maintaining the due dates, the treasurer ensures that funds are available for taxing districts on time.
The proposed relief plan has minimal impact on the collection cycle and provides immediate assistance to taxpayers. There is no need for complex application processes or review committees, making it simple to implement and understand for those affected.
The Cost of the Relief Plan
Implementing the recommended relief plan would result in a loss of approximately $124,000 in revenue for the county. However, considering the current crisis, this cost is seen as relatively modest and reasonable to provide relief to taxpayers. The treasurer emphasizes that this cost is a small price to pay to support taxpayers and ease their financial burden during these challenging times.
It’s important to note that the relief plan does not affect the distribution schedule for taxing districts. School districts, police and fire departments, and other essential service providers will receive their allocated funds as scheduled. The penalty waiver only affects the first installment, ensuring that at least 51% of the funds are available to taxing districts on time.
Options Considered and Recommended
The decision on which relief option to adopt rests with the county board. The treasurer outlines four options:
Option A: No change – This option would create significant difficulties for taxpayers and is not recommended.
Option B: One month penalty waiver – This option provides minimal disruption to taxing districts and is estimated to cost the county approximately $124,000 in lost interest revenue for next year.
Option C: Two-month penalty waiver – This option would cost the county around $243,000 but may begin to interfere with taxing districts’ ability to support their first responders during the crisis.
Option D: Three-month penalty waiver – This option would cause significant disruptions, particularly for school districts, and is not advisable.
The treasurer has received positive feedback from taxing districts regarding Option B, as it provides relief without severely burdening them. Although there may be some adjustments required by taxing districts, they understand the need for relief and have shown support for this option.
In conclusion, the Kane County Treasurer’s proposal for property tax payment relief aims to provide immediate assistance to taxpayers while ensuring the financial stability of taxing districts during the COVID-19 crisis. The recommended penalty waiver for 30 days allows taxpayers additional time to make their payments without incurring any penalties. This simple and direct relief plan, although resulting in a modest loss of revenue for the county, aims to ease the financial burden on taxpayers and support them during these challenging times. The decision on which relief option to adopt ultimately lies with the county board, and Option B, the one-month penalty waiver, seems to be the most favorable choice among taxing districts. By implementing this relief plan, the county demonstrates its commitment to the well-being of its citizens and the health, safety, and financial matters that take precedence during this crisis.