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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 1st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 5

Cities, county weigh tax relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

By ZAC EZZONE

As many Santa Barbara County residents and businesses take on additional financial burdens related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county and some local cities are offering some form of temporary tax relief.

During the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 24, county Treasurer-Tax Collector Harry Hagen said the county doesn’t have the authority to change the date by which residents must pay property taxes. The payment is due on Feb. 1, and becomes delinquent on April 10 after which the taxpayer incurs a late penalty. 

Although only the state can change these dates, Hagen said he is preparing to provide penalty waivers so that people can pay their taxes without incurring a penalty, if they’re affected by COVID-19. Hagen told the board that his office is trying to work out a way to create a process by which people can obtain and fill out a penalty waiver application. 

“Basically they have to just prove to us that they were affected and signing under penalty of perjury is one method,” Hagen told the board. “But we’ll try to make it as easy and painless and assist people that may have been affected either because of health, or financial … . There will be a thousand different reasons that people were affected.”

With the statewide stay-at-home order still in place quickly reducing the number of people traveling, the cities of Buellton and Lompoc have adopted similar measures to provide some tax relief to local hotels and motels.

In a special meeting on March 27, Lompoc City Council voted to waive penalties and interest for late transient occupancy tax payments for hotels and motels in the city until June 30. 

The day prior to Lompoc’s vote, the Buellton City Council approved a plan to temporarily defer transient occupancy tax payments for up to 90 days. Under this plan, local hotels and motels must still file these tax returns with the city as usual, but the payment could be delayed. 

Buellton City Manager Scott Wolfe told the Sun that this item was added to the council’s agenda after a few local hotels contacted the city expressing concerns about their inability to cover their upcoming tax payment. 

“Our hotels are empty right now; there may be some that have closed,” Wolfe said. “We had been contacted by hotels here that expressed concern, and we understand.” 








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