Bashaw town council agreed that a mistake on a property owner’s tax bill which resulted in hundreds of dollars in late penalties can be traced back to three sources: the Town of Bashaw, the property owner and the property owner’s bank.
The decision to grant some tax relief to the property owner was made at the Sept. 6 regular meeting of council.
Property owner Bradly Carlson appeared in person before council to request hundreds of dollars in late fees applied to his tax roll for the 2022 year be removed.
In his request to appear before council he stated, “Charged late fees when the late fees were not stated on the tax form.” His desired outcome was “Remove late fees.”
Carlson noted on the request and in person he spoke to Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller about the hundreds of dollars in late fees applied on his 2022 tax roll and was told he was responsible for paying them regardless.
In a phone interview Sept. 7 Fuller told the ECA Review Carlson’s 2022 property taxes were paid late and the late penalties were applied but there was a problem with Carlson’s tax notice which originated at the Town of Bashaw.
The CAO stated that the town’s tax notice computer software has trouble printing off tax notices when property owners have a credit on their account.
In that case, noted Fuller, the software prints the same number in three separate boxes: the amount due after Aug. 2 box, the amount due after Dec. 31 box and the annual taxes box. Obviously the same figure should not appear in all three boxes.
Fuller stated that in his presentation Carlson explained to councillors his banking institution, which apparently pays his taxes, got the notice with the three erroneous boxes which resulted in the property taxes being paid late, after which the Town of Bashaw applied the late penalties.
Fuller responded the Town of Bashaw notified both Carlson and his bank there was a problem with his tax notice before the due date, but the CAO related that the property owner held steadfast the Town of Bashaw made the mistake and hence he should not be held responsible.
Fuller acknowledged there was a mistake on Carlson’s tax notice but stated she felt the Town of Bashaw went above and beyond to notify him and his banking institution of this before the late penalties applied.
Fuller also pointed out to councillors during discussion that tax notices have deadlines and warnings printed on them notifying property owner they’re responsible for paying their taxes and if the taxes are paid late then penalties will be applied.
The CAO stated the notice also includes a request that property owners contact the Town of Bashaw if there is a mistake on the notice.
Fuller stated that after Carlson made his request to council he left the meeting and councillors discussed the issue “at length.”
Fuller stated that after discussion all councillors agreed that all three parties involved in this issue, the Town of Bashaw, the banking institution and the property owner, were at fault.
To reflect this, councillors unanimously passed a resolution that Carlson’s tax roll be credited one-third of the late penalties in question, $137.77, with the other two-thirds of the penalties remaining on his tax bill.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review