EDITORIAL: A look at who DOESN’T pay taxes in the Town of Princeton

Nobody likes paying taxes.

And some people don’t pay them.

Last week, as part of its financial plan, council reviewed a list of permissive tax exemptions for 2019, which was approved last October by the previous council.

This is an annual exercise, with the recipients not varying much from year to year, and the exemptions amounting to nearly $24,000.

Without debating the merits of the groups that apply for and receive these tax breaks, it’s certainly worth bringing to people’s attention that they occur.

Princeton churches, for example, are forgiven $3,225.39 this year – with the most relief going to Jehovah’s Witness Hall, $947.82.

These exemptions are applied to property surrounding the various church buildings, for example parking lots, as the brick and mortar places of worship already qualify for statutory exemptions under provincial legislation.

Not every municipality offers permissive tax exemptions to religious groups. Keremeos is an example. Also an increasing number of local governments are requiring churches to demonstrate they provide a benefit to their communities as part of their applications.

This is not to suggest Princeton churches should not get tax exemptions. However there are interesting views on both sides of that issue and a discussion would be satisfying.

Discussion is always good.

The lion’s share of tax exemptions are for properties owned by the municipality itself, which makes sense and saves paper work. The hospital property and Ridgewood are exempt, and crown land.

Outside of those categories exemptions can be awarded to non-profit groups which do not compete with for-profit businesses, and who “provide a service that fulfills some basic need, or otherwise improves the quality of life for the residents of the Town of Princeton.”

The Chamber of Commerce is exempt from $1,424.61.

The Seniors’ Centre and its parking lot are exempt and the Legion.

Let us repeat: No one is saying these organizations should have to pay taxes.

It’s just important to know where the town’s money is going, and where it is coming from.

– Similkameen Spotlight

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