County treasurers quizzed on potential tax date deferral
April 2, 2020
Editor's note: After this story was written, we received word from Wahkiakum County Treasurer Tammy Peterson that the Wahkiakum officials have extended the tax payment deadline to May 31. Please see separate article on this website for that information.
With the April 30 deadline for paying property taxes this month, tenants, landlords and property owners may wonder how the economic impact of the covid-19 virus will affect them.
Steve Sharp, a Puget Island resident and president of Sharp Property Management, Inc., posed that question to the treasurers of Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.
" I currently manage about 1,000 rental properties for about 100 clients," he wote in letters last week. "And today, I am speaking for them, as well as myself.
"With the current Covid-19 crisis and new rules concerning renters and rent collection, there is a very real possibility that several tenants are going to default on their rent payments. The State of Washington has banned evictions, so, at this time, landlords will be forced to allow a non paying tenant to remain in their rental property.
" I am asking that you consider postponing the April 30th tax payment for 90 days. The Federal Government has postponed income tax payments traditionally due on April 15 to July 15th. The precedent has been set by the federal government, so, this would not be a ground breaking decision on your part."
The treasurers of the two counties offered different responses.
" The treasurers of Washington state have been in contact with the state treasurer and the governor’s office," said Wahkiakum County Treasurer Tammy Peterson. "A decision on tax due date has not been made at this time.
"There are several options that are available to Washington treasurers regarding payment plans, waiving penalty and interest in extreme economic hardships etc. Most treasurers are encouraging those who can pay their taxes and haven’t suffered an economic hardship (lay-off) should do so by April 30th.
"Property taxes fund all junior districts as well as the school district. Their budgets would also be impacted by the delay in property tax collection. It is the duty of county treasurers to look out for the districts as well.
"We have floated around several ideas, drafted some forms for businesses who have had to close, etc. Once a decision is made by the governor I was going to put together a press release.
An extension of the tax payment deadline could cause problems for local governmental entities, said DebraGardner, Cowlitz County treasurer. (Editor's Note: Name has been corrected from earlier posting.)
"Cowlitz County relies heavily on property taxes to fund local services, and this includes essential services provided by Health and Human Services, sheriff’s office, fire districts and many other taxing districts." Gardner told Sharp in an email.
"An extension of the due date would cause severe financial implications for some of our districts. At this time no decision has been made to move the due date from April 30, 2020.
"Things are changing rapidly due to COVID-19; if the Governor makes it mandatory to extend the due date then it would change, at that point some of our districts are going to need financial support."