BURLINGTON — The Burlington City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to forgive late fees on the city’s new tax on business revenue after few businesses made the deadline to avoid late fees.

Late fees will be forgiven through March 31.

Several members of the council said that while the rollout of this tax has been rocky they believe this is a reasonable timeline to expect payments.

The council implemented a 0.1% tax on revenue over $1 million in July as part of a push to end the city’s reliance on sales tax revenue.

While both the city and its consultant Azavar Government Solutions called and sent letters to businesses they believed would be impacted, no payments were made by the Jan. 1 deadline and few by the Jan. 31 cutoff to avoid late fees.

In the time since, city Finance Director Joe Stewart said many businesses have filed and paid the tax.

Representatives from several businesses blamed their failure to pay on a lack of communication from the city, or said they thought being asked to pay online through Azavar might be a scam.

“Understandably, they were hesitant to sign up (online) just because there’s so much fraud and scams out there,” Stewart said at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

While all businesses are required to file, only those that earn more than $1 million in revenue need to pay.

At Thursday’s meeting, several council members called for a threshold, saying businesses that have an estimated revenue well below $1 million shouldn’t be required to file. More conversation on this is expected at a later meeting.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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