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City grants tax extension in pandemic

As more people are furloughed and businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extension has been offered for city real estate taxes. County taxes, however, will be due in keeping with the original schedule.

“We are giving people extra time to file their taxes due to the financial hardships experienced by the pandemic,” said Nicholas Grimes, city treasurer and tax collector.

The discounted rate for city real estate tax has been extended from April 30 to June 30, while deadline to pay at the normal rate shifts from June 30 to August 31, he said.

The deadline for filing business privilege and mercantile, or local earned income tax with no penalties or interest is July 15, he said.

Council President Randall J. Allison said the pandemic’s impact and hardships it is causing was reason council recently approved the request.

The pandemic is slamming people hard as some homeowners have contacted the tax office saying they must wait on their stimulus check to arrive or they are furloughed or unemployed, Grimes said.

Tax revenue generates $14.5 million a year and there are 21,000 people working in the city, he said.

It’s not only real estate tax concerns, but also those who pay an average of $3.2 million a year in business privilege and mercantile taxes hit by the pandemic.

Some small business owners are seeing a slower cash flow or none, Grimes said.

“Some businesses don’t have accounting departments and some accountants are saying they will need extra time to do taxes due to the shut downs.”

The taxes may be put in a secure drop-off box outside a closed City Hall, online payments or through U.S. Postal Service, he said.

Council is grateful for these thoughtful proposals made by Grimes, Council President Randall J. Allison said.

The deadline extensions for business and real estate taxes are the right thing to do in light of the upheaval this pandemic has caused financially and emotionally for property and business owners, he said.

The new deadlines are in line with the adjusted state and federal income tax deadlines.

Lycoming County property owners can pay their real estate tax bills online or by mail.

The county treasurer’s office is closed for walk-in payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tax bills paid by April 30 receive a 2 percent discount for early payment, according to county officials. Online payments can be made on the county website at www.lyco.org. Payments by mail can be sent to the Lycoming County Treasurer, P.O. Box 640, Wellsboro, PA, 16901.

Sun-Gazette reporter Mike Reuther contributed to this article.

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