It’s been said there are two certainties in life: death, and taxes.
But this year has proven different, with uncertainty about taxes remaining a hot topic in South Burlington.
“Along with all the other things we’re adjusting to, who would assume that even the tax payment process would need to change?” asked Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard.
On July 20, the city council approved delaying first and second tax installment due dates in light of the pandemic. Payments are usually collected in mid-August, November and March but will now be due on Sept. 15, Dec. 15 and March 15.
With the school budget still unresolved, residents will receive an interim tax bill in mid-August for the Sept. 15 payment. The interim bill will include an estimated education tax rate calculated by the Vermont Department of Taxes, Property Valuation and Review Division.
The first tax bill will be printed on colored paper to help avoid confusion. It will include the municipal tax rate – which has been finalized and matches the rate approved by voters in March – and an interim educational tax rate.
The difference between what taxpayers pay on the interim educational tax rate and the actual amount due will be made up in a subsequent payment once the school budget has been resolved and the state has approved the educational tax rate. The city is hopeful that resolution will occur in the second tax installation, Hubbard said.
Tax Assessor Martha Lyons said she believes the educational tax rate increase will be like a normal year’s increase. But, she said that including the interim educational tax payment on the first notice will spare people from paying two full installments of educational taxes in one lump sum.
South Burlington municipal property tax rates for 2020-21 have been set, and bills will go up $54.55 per year for an average homeowner and $37.56 per year for the average condo owner. Almost $17 million is needed for the municipal government during the 2020-21 fiscal year, for a total municipal tax rate of $554.20 per $100,000 of property value.