Supervisors Aim to Make Late Taxes "Less Taxing"

PRESS RELEASE                    
April 13, 2020


SAN JOSE – In light of the economic hit local residents are taking during the COVID-19 crisis, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is proposing the County waive the 10% penalty on property tax payments that were due Friday, April 10, but that are paid late.

Simitian is joined in the proposal by Board President Cindy Chavez. The two Supervisors also propose to publicize the County’s option for partial payment of property taxes (a proposal initiated by Simitian three years ago), and want to direct County staff to identify other ways to make late payment penalties less onerous, including, potentially, a reduction in the interest charged on properties that fall into default.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal at its regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, April 21.  At that time, the Board will consider whether or not to direct County staff to waive the 10% penalty and $20 fee for late payment of the second installment of property taxes which were due on April 10, 2020, as well as the other two items in the Simitian/Chavez proposal.

“We’re in a crisis, and people are hurting,” said Simitian. “I think most folks understand that property taxes for our cities, our schools and the County are needed to keep our government running – particularly so given the current crisis. That being said, penalizing people who are doing the best they can during a difficult time makes no sense to me. So, we’re asking the Administration to simply waive the penalties and fees across the board, for all late payers, without requiring individual application, justification, or consideration.”

Board President Cindy Chavez noted that, “Relief from penalties is particularly important for homeowners and small businesspeople whose livelihoods are uncertain – they need immediate relief.”​

Simitian and Chavez also laid out other possible actions County staff could take, including:

  • Taking all necessary steps to publicize the payment options available, including the County’s acceptance of partial payment of property taxes; and,
  • Finding additional potential relief measures for taxpayers with unpaid second installment property taxes as of July 1, 2020, which could include, but are not limited to, waiver, reduction, and/or refund of redemption penalties and fees.

California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 4985.2 grants the County the authority to waive penalties for reasonable causes and circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control.

“I’m told that a proposal of this type sort is unprecedented, but then so is the crisis at hand. If we’ve got a tool we can use to provide relief, we should use it,” said Simitian. “Now, more than ever, we’ve got to think creatively.”



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