The municipal tax deadline has come and gone and Merritt’s finance department is calling 2012 a “smooth” tax year with more residents paying taxes on time compared to 2011.

The City of Merritt has collected 86 per cent of current taxes compared to 82 per cent in 2011, reports Ben Currie, Deputy Financial Services Manager.

“Tax season went off without a hitch this year at City Hall,” said Currie. “The July 3 tax deadline saw its share of last-minute tax payers; however, it was a smooth and uneventful tax season – uneventful being a positive.”

The City’s overall 2012 tax increase was 2.35 per cent, though tax revenues from residents actually decreased by 0.51 per cent. Individual property taxes reflected property assessment fluctuations.

With little fluctuations in the rates, Currie said there weren’t too many angry taxpayers this year.

“This is the one tax you actually pay in person (compared to federal and provincial taxes) and a lot of taxpayers use it as an opportunity to vent their frustration,” he said. “It’s a pretty tough job working the front counter.”

While residents have an option to pay online, Currie said many locals still choose to pay in person, writing post-dated cheques or paying by debit. Others have tax payment arrangements with their mortgage companies.

The finance department is also reporting less delinquent taxes this year, meaning less properties will be auctioned at the 2012 Tax Sale on the last Monday in September.

Delinquent taxes are considered those still owing from 2010, so residents have had two years to pay the bill, said Currie.

Residents are charged 1.5 per cent basic interest per month of overdue taxes until properties are auctioned.

“Cities don’t like to do it, but there has to be some kind of enforcement to get people to pay their taxes,” said Currie.

“We really don’t want to be auctioning anyone’s properties this year, so it’s very important that they get these balances taken care of.”

Under the Community Charter, the city has to advertise the listings and notify owners before the auction, and owners have until the day of the auction to pay the taxes.

“To prevent their property from being auctioned, residents just have to pay the delinquent amount from 2010 – the letters we send out are very clear,” said Currie.

Currie suggests property owners with delinquent taxes contact their mortgage companies to make arrangements.

In 2011, the City auctioned 14 properties.