Council rates- How legal are council penalties – part 3.

As if the past two days have not given you enough  to think about,  here is another major issue for council

The  Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 at section 58   provides for the ability to impose penalties

(2) The amount of unpaid rates to which a penalty may be added includes—

 (a) a penalty previously added to unpaid rates under this section; or
(b) additional charges added to unpaid rates under section 132 of the Rating Powers Act 1988; or
(c) rates levied under the Rating Powers Act 1988 that remain unpaid.

Going back to section 57

(1) A local authority may, by resolution, authorise penalties to be added to rates that are not paid by the due date.

(2) A resolution made under subsection (1) must—

 (a) be made not later than the date when the local authority sets the rates for the financial year; and
(b) state—

 (i) how the penalty is calculated; and
(ii) the date that the penalty is to be added to the amount of the unpaid rates.

In the 2014-15  resolution in the annual plan   there is no mention  f penalties being cumulative or added on to the rates  so as to attract penalties on penalties. it simply states .

Penalties on rates not paid by the due date
The council will apply a penalty of 10 per cent of the amount of rates assessed under each instalment in the 2014/2015 financial year that are unpaid after the due date of each instalment. Any penalty will be applied to unpaid rates on the day following the due date of the instalment.

A further 10 per cent penalty calculated on former years’ rate arrears will be added on the first business day of the new financial year (or five days after the rates resolution is adopted, whichever is the later) and then again six months later.

The  resolution is actually quite specific  it states that “A further 10 per cent penalty calculated on former years’ rate arrears” it does not  say including penalties , and rates has not been redefined to mean rates plus penalties.

In going through this exercise we have  come to realize several things.

  1. the rates penalty  policy is not very clear  and the average person   will struggle to sort it out, We did, and we are not even sure if we got it right.
  2. Give it to  half a dozen accountants and we are sure that you will get as many  variants  in calculations
  3. Give it to a dozen lawyers and you will get a dozen interpretations possibly more  depending on case law
  4. The legislation is 12 years old , House prices  in Auckland have gone up  massively  yet council has not reconsidered   its rating penalties either percentage  wise or  in line with the legal provisions. 10%  on or  rates when we paid $1,000 per year is very different to 10%   when you are paying $4,000.
  5. Just because   we allow  the world to buy up Auckland to  get rich quick , launder money, land bank  etc  does not mean that the  residents need to be  bankrupted so that their houses  can be put on the market.
  6. You would  do better going to a loan shark than to  default on rates.
  7. Live alone pensioners based on the   rates demand referred to above  ( receiving live alone  super  of $21,931.52 would  be parting with nearly 25% of their super  to live in the  family  home .  We are being forced out of our homes  by rates and penalties .

It is therefore most important that rates  and penalties are applied in a open transparent democratic manner and above all  Compliant with the law.

Dare I say it .. yes there are other issues.. more tomorrow

 

Leave a Reply