Deadline is April 30 to apply for property taxes late fee waiver
County officials said the number of applicants is lower than expected so far.
Crow Wing County residents and businesses have until Thursday, April 30, to apply for a program allowing late payments on property taxes without penalty.
Targeting businesses subject to closure orders from Gov. Tim Walz and homeowners who’ve been laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic, the county board earlier this month approved a process allowing taxpayers to apply for a penalty waiver for property taxes due May 15. Those approved for the waiver will have until July 15 to pay property taxes without the threat of late fees or interest. Only non-escrowed commercial and homesteaded properties are eligible, meaning property taxes are not rolled into those taxpayers’ mortgages.
As of Friday, 50 taxpayers have applied, with 20 approved and another 10 partially approved. Taxpayers approved so far for the waiver include dental offices, salons, bars, restaurants and a veterinary office. Individual homeowners have also been approved. Partial approvals include some area resorts, such as Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge and Breezy Point Resort, along with a few dining establishments that also feature apartments. Waivers were offered to these businesses for parts of their properties affected by closure orders, such as restaurants and bars.
Those approvals amount to $138,038 in late property taxes. When Griffin presented the plan to the board in early April, he expected as much as $1.1 million in late commercial property taxes alone — a figure that would still allow the county to continue cash-flowing its operations.
On eight applications, the county is awaiting more information, and one of the applications was a duplicate. Eleven of the applications were denied. Those denied may appeal to the county board for reconsideration.
Griffin said among the denials so far are a few golf courses in the county, which were able to reopen as of last week per a new executive order from Walz.
“We don’t feel it is warranted they should have a waiver,” Griffin said. “We don’t believe it was substantially enough that their normal operation would’ve been impacted by the closure.”
Also denied were homeowners who applied for non-homesteaded property, such as second homes or recreational properties.
“We drew the line at folks that are just trying to keep a roof over their head,” Griffin said. “That was the target audience. They just got laid off and they’re having trouble making their mortgage payment let alone their tax payment.”
Griffin said the process isn’t perfect, and the county won’t be able to help everyone who might need it through the waiver program.
“We’re just not going to be able to do enough,” Griffin said. “There’s a lot of very warranted properties out there that could use the help. We’re not going to be able to do that for everybody.”
The county collects property taxes on behalf of townships, cities and school districts as well, meaning late payments impact the budgets of those jurisdictions as well. Officials urged those who are able to pay their property taxes to do so.
“This is a time when we’re asking people to be the best citizens, the best form of themselves that they can be. And so even for targeted businesses, if they don't need the relief, we would ask them to pay their taxes. That's really what it boils down to,” County Administrator Tim Houle said April 3. “ … That is how we provide emergency services, that is how we provide for snow plow drivers, that is how we provide for law enforcement, for the jail and for essential services for our community.”
How to apply for a waiver
Visit crowwing.us/TaxPenaltyWaiver to apply for a waiver of penalties and interest on late first-half property tax payments in Crow Wing County.
CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .