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Politics & Government
This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

New Castle County Council moves to provide relief for taxpayers amid pandemic

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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A County Council meeting before the pandemic forced meetings to go virtual

 

New Castle County Council unanimously passed legislation allowing property owners to effectively defer taxes due this week for up to six months without late fees. 

Taxpayers must apply for the penalty abatement and say their late payment is due to COVID-19-related financial hardship.

Sue Thomas’s business owns several single-family rental properties. She called into Tuesday’s meeting hoping the deferral option could apply to her business.

County Chief Financial Officer Michael Smith said it applies to both residential and commercial properties.

Smith says the County is not able to defer school taxes. 

“I would encourage anybody to contact the state, if that would help try to encourage the state to be able to do something as far as the school taxes,” he said. “Because we all know that the school taxes make up the majority of your property tax bill. It would be helpful to be able to have that at least up to six-month penalty forgiveness as well.”

Council signalled an additional desire to help landlords like Sue Thomas. 

“If we could do something through CARES Act, we should look for relief,” said County Councilman David Carter. “If not, then I would like us all to discuss the possibility of a separate ordinance maybe to give relief to some of these folks that are getting hit hard, paying taxes when they’re not collecting rent, because I don’t want them to quit renting houses. We need more rental housing.”

Several other council members expressed support for the idea. 

Delaware tenants with a collective rent deficit of nearly $3 million have applied for state assistance in the last month and a half, according to the Delaware State Housing Authority.

The ordinance passed Tuesday estimates around 2,000 qualified taxpayers will apply during the six-month period, costing the county more than $175,000 this Fiscal Year. 

 
 

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