The City of St. John’s is considering accepting credit cards for tax payments.
City hall accepted credit cards for two years around the beginning of the 21st century, said Bob Bishop, deputy city manager of financial services, but credit-card fees ate into city revenue.
“When we brought it in originally, it was with the idea that it would give us another collection option and allow people to make payments who wouldn’t otherwise be able to do it,” said Bishop, after a meeting of the city’s finance and administration standing committee Tuesday afternoon. “But what we found, when we did the analysis, the people who were paying with credit card were the people who would have paid on time anyway. So there was really no benefit to us at that time.”
The city saw less revenue, explained Bishop, as it had to pay charges to the credit card providers to allow credit card payments as an option.
What’s changed now, said Bishop, is the growth of businesses that accept credit card payments on behalf of another party, such as a municipality, and charges an up-front fee to the user, so the city would see the full tax amount paid to the city.
“There are other municipalities that do this already, and we’ve prided ourselves, I think, in being somewhat in the forefront of things,” said Bishop.
The finance committee voted to allow city staff to explore options for electronic tax billing and payment.