Be sure you pay your taxes to the correct account: DOI
By Stephanie Stevens
Online banking and bill payment can make life a lot simpler, but just as typing in a payment is easy, so is potentially posting it to the wrong account.
District of Invermere (DOI) residents can pay both their annual property taxes and their utility bills online. But Director of Finance Karen Cote urges residents to ensure they are paying to the correct account.
There have been several instances of residents opting to pay their property taxes online but posting the payment to the utility account instead (and vice versa), and once that payment is made, it cannot be reversed. In an instance of putting your tax payment into the wrong account, it can also result in a late payment penalty.
While it is not the first time it has happened, Cote brought the issue forward to council after one resident requested his complaint be heard by his elected officials, feeling the penalty he accrued should be waived.
“It generally only happens once (that anyone pays to the incorrect account),” she said. “And staff is really good about explaining the process to residents if they are unsure about it.”
It is legislated in the community charter that a penalty be applied to late property taxes and it cannot be reversed or waived, but Cote explained that municipalities can create their own penalty scheme.
“We split the 10% penalty so it is not applied all at once,” she said. Taxes are due at the beginning of July, so the first five per cent is applied on the due date and the second five per cent at the end of July, giving residents a chance to pay only half the penalty if they pay before the end of the month.
Councillor Ute Juras asked Cote if it was possible for the DOI to simply rename the accounts.
Cote explained that while each account is listed individually, and each has a different number of digits, banks gives the DOI accounts their own abbreviated designations and the DOI has no say in how they are named. Adding to the potential confusion, the banks do not share standard abbreviations.
Some banking institutions will allow users to give specific nicknames to accounts they pay regularly, something that is worth looking into, said Cote.
“Since we have changed to an automated system with our bank, the payments are automatically uploaded to whichever account that the taxpayer pays,” added Cote. “Years ago, we used to manually input customer payments which allowed us to double check they were going to the correct account, but online payments have become so popular the manual practice is no longer a viable option.
“I really urge residents to be sure they are paying to the correct account, because once the payment is submitted there is nothing we can do.”