Apply for property tax rebates if your organization is a qualifying charity or other not-for-profit. In addition to COVID-specific government relief which may be available, municipal property tax rebates may be a valuable source of cashflow as not-for-profits navigate the impact of COVID-19 on revenues.
For example, many churches and other houses of worship facing occupancy restrictions or complete lockdowns, will experience a reduction in tithes, offerings, and other donations. A Wall Street Journal article published on December 31, 2020, entitled Pandemic Tests Rural Churches, highlights how dire the circumstances may be for rural churches in particular. One pastor saw his congregation shrink from 80 in-person attendees to 25 per week (an almost 70% reduction). Without a high rate of online or automatic giving, churches may find that tithes, offerings, and donations experience a corresponding plunge. A church’s long-term survival may be very uncertain after months of restrictions and lockdowns.
Additionally, a recent Ontario case is a reminder that not-for-profits are not automatically exempt from property taxes merely because they are not-for-profits and do good work (See London Jewish Community Village v. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, Region 23 et al.). Instead, property tax exemptions typically apply only if the charity or other not-for-profit meets an enumerated exception based on the nature of the organization, the purpose for which the property is used and by whom, or other criteria.
However, many municipalities offer generous property tax rebates to registered charities and certain other not-for-profits, ranging anywhere from 40% to 100% of the property taxes paid (some with a dollar-value cap). The due dates to submit applications vary by municipality but are somewhere around the last day of February or the first day of March each year. Applicants must submit a new application to apply for property tax rebates each year.
Applicants may need to submit supporting documentation from third parties like the Charities Directorate and landlords. Consequently, organizations should start preparing applications and gathering supporting documents now to ensure that they can submit applications on time. (Refer to a previous post on First Reference Talks for tips and strategies that are helpful if you apply for property tax rebates.)
Log in to Not-for-Profit PolicyPro and see SPP NP 1.06 – Taxes and Charitable Returns for further guidance on the above. Not a subscriber? Request a free 30-day trial of Not-for-Profit PolicyPro here.