Kandiyohi County gives property taxpayers a bit of relief
Property taxpayers in Kandiyohi County won't have to worry about accruing late penalties if they can't pay their property taxes on time this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kandiyohi County Board approved a resolution abating late penalties until July 15 for property taxes due May 15.
WILLMAR — In Minnesota the first half of annual property taxes remain due May 15, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused significant reductions in household income and business revenue. The Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved a resolution which they hope will help those facing financial hardships in the near future.
"We understand there are a lot of people out there hurting," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.
The resolution, approved at Tuesday's County Board meeting, abates the late penalty usually charged to taxpayers who are late with tax payments. The penalty is based on a percentage formula and is usually charged on May 16 and grows the longer the payment is late. This year, the penalty in Kandiyohi County will not be charged until July 16, giving taxpayers an extra two months to get their payments in without consequences.
"I do think it is very important that we do something," said Commissioner Corky Berg.
Those property owners who pay their property taxes through an escrow account or by automatic bank payments will still have their taxes paid on May 15. According to Kleindl, about 18 percent of the county's property tax payments come from escrow accounts.
While the resolution was approved unanimously, the commissioners are asking those property owners who are able to pay their taxes on time to do so.
"I want to be helpful to those who need that extra time, but I want people to be mindful," said Commissioner Roger Imdieke.
School districts, townships, cities and counties rely on property taxes to meet their budgets. Kleindl said he spoke with many of the governmental bodies in Kandiyohi County and the overall consensus was one of support for abating the late penalties. That being said, some organizations, including New London-Spicer Public Schools, said it could be difficult if they have to wait months for their share of the tax revenue.
"This would be a hardship if a lot of people did not pay their property taxes on time," Kleindl said.
Kandiyohi County is just one of several counties in the state which are taking similar steps to help taxpayers during the pandemic. Ramsey and Sherburne counties approved resolutions on Tuesday, and Washington County was considering a similar resolution, according to metro media reports. The state Legislature has been meeting about property taxes. If the state does act, its legislation would override the county's resolution, Kleindl said.
"We know the House and Senate tax committees had separate hearings," Kleindl said. "But really, I don't think there is a consensus on where that should go."
The commissioners were pleased to take the action they did, to help their constituents during the pandemic.
"We are acting on behalf of the people and issuing relief in a time of need. That is our role," said Commissioner Steve Ahmann. "This is government working for the taxpayers."