Councillor pushing for crackdown on cash payments at city hall

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Following the province’s crackdown on money laundering late last year, a Vancouver city councillor says it’s time for municipalities to follow suit.

Currently, the City of Vancouver accepts cash payments for property taxes and the empty homes tax, which home-owners can pay in person at city hall. The city also takes cash for fees and licenses. But Councillor Melissa De Genova says that’s an easy way to clean dirty money.

“To take hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, with no information or identification to track that cash – if someone were to come into city hall, walk in to the counter and put that down on an address,” De Genova says.” And I understand from staff that that’s possible. In fact, I’ve seen people carry huge sums of cash into Vancouver city hall.”

De Genova says she has a plan to clean up the practice. She says it’s time to put a stop to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude when it comes to cash payments to the city.

While she shies away from suggesting specific limits, she says the city’s practice of accepting six-figure cash payments for things like taxes, fees and licences is in need of immediate change.

“I think that we’re in a new time here. A few years ago we didn’t have the empty home tax, so people would be coming in, perhaps paying cash for their property taxes,” she says. “But it was a smaller sum and it was two times a year. It wasn’t one per cent of the assessed value of a home.”

She says limiting cash payments was something she’d pushed for with little support in the previous administration, but she’s hoping for a different result on Tuesday, Jan. 29, when her motion will be put before council.

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