Mayor pushes for lower levy on late taxes

Tax arrears total on the decline



Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik said city council should cut Iqaluit’s interest rate on unpaid property tax, despite an increase in the number of homeowners and businesses not paying their taxes.

Sheutiapik is backing a plan to cut the municipality’s controversial interest rate of 22 per cent down to 12 per cent, a move that defies the advice of administration, and has caused dissent among councillors.

Sheutiapik told Nunatsiaq News that the recent posting of delinquent taxpayers, which shows a growing number of businesses and people in arrears, actually proves the municipality is improving its tax-collecting system.

The list, dated March 31, shows more than 100 residents and companies owe the City of Iqaluit a total of $641,381 — a decrease in dollars, compared to last year, when 75 residents and companies owed more than $900,000. The list only includes debts exceeding $500.

She argued that lowering the interest rate will not encourage property owners to avoid paying taxes. Sheutiapik believes the city’s and the business sector’s common interest in improving economic development in Iqaluit will be an incentive to keep tax payments up to date.

“A lot of people look at the city as a business,” Sheutiapik said. “If you look at it that way, you can’t let these [debts] slide.

“We have shown we want to work with them [debtors]. I think in turn they have to work with us by paying their bills.”

As for private homeowners, Sheutiapik said slashing the interest rate will give relief to people who fall behind in their payments.

“Sometimes people do fall behind,” she said. “Everyone falls behind in paperwork sometimes.”

This year’s list of tax arrears doesn’t include the colossal debts reaching around $600,000, accumulated by three families. The city threatened to sell the homes to settle the arrears last year. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. intervened, and the families soon went on payment plans.

However, the growing list of delinquent taxpayers remains.

Businesses make up the bulk of the arrears. Iqaluit Arctic Ltd. owes the most, with $59,000 in debt. Navigator Inn 2000 Ltd. follows with $46,000 in unpaid property tax; Nova Construction Ltd. owes $38,000; Coman Arctic Ltd. owes $37,000; the Webster family owes more than $31,000 in personal and business debts; and the Nunavut Housing Corporation owes $18,000.

Council is expected to reduce Iqaluit’s tax interest rate at their next meeting on April 27. In the past, administration has stated the rate change will not affect debts retroactively.

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