The fate of Fresno County residents and businesses late on paying their property taxes amid the COVID-19 pandemic is in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved sending a letter to the Capitol seeking a waiver on penalties and fees for late property tax payments.

Friday, April 10, was the deadline for the taxes.

portrait of Nathan Magsig

“The county, as well as this board, are very interested in making sure that those affected by COVID-19 are protected and not penalized.” — Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig

“We had a lot of outpouring for our community for us to do something about property taxes, and especially the fines,” supervisor Steve Brandau said.

“We’re sending a letter to Sacramento to the elected officials there to please consider removing some obstacles to allow us to be more effective and helpful to our community.”

Said supervisor Nathan Magsig: “The county, as well as this board, are very interested in making sure that those affected by COVID-19 are protected and not penalized.”

There is a 10% penalty on unpaid taxes as well as a $10 fee. If payments due April 10 are not paid by June 30, the penalties and fees escalate.

Three Counties Extended Deadline, Others Waiving Penalties

According to most interpretations of state law, an act of the Legislature or executive order is required to push back the property tax deadline.

However, three counties — San Francisco, San Mateo, and Kern — extended the deadline to May 4. Those counties claimed they had the authority to do so.

Other county tax collectors, such as in Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, for example, are using their authority to waive penalties and fees for missing the deadline because of COVID-19 impacts.

“We recognize many taxpayers are facing difficulties with the upcoming April 10 property tax deadline and we are committed to provide relief where allowed under state law,” San Luis Obispo County Tax Collector Jim Hamilton said in a news release at the start of April.

In addition, many business groups urged Newsom to delay the deadline or waive late-payment fees.

State Association of Tax Collectors Wanted Deadline Kept

But many counties pushed back, saying they are highly reliant on property taxes. With social-distancing orders sapping local governments of sales and occupancy tax revenue, it was crucial the state honor the deadline, they said.

Mariposa County Treasurer Keith Williams, who is president of the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, asked state officials to leave the property tax deadline alone.

“Everybody who can pay, should pay,” Williams told NBC Bay Area. “Going forward, it will be a struggle for everybody. We’re all in this together. Together we will get through it.”

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