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EDITORIAL – We shouldn’t have to apply for homeowner grant every year

(Image: City of Kamloops)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

CLOSE ON the heels of property assessment mail-outs, the Province has announced a bump in the 2018 homeowner grant threshold.

Assessments are up, and while many people think that automatically means higher taxes, it’s not the case unless your home is assessed above the average in your community. The assessments are used by municipalities and regional districts to set the amount of tax needed to meet their budgets.

The overall hike in assessed values prompted the B.C. government yesterday to announce the change in the grant threshold.

Instead of $1.6 million, owners of homes worth $1.65 million or less will now be eligible to apply for homeowner grants of $570 or more, depending on age and location. Seniors, northerners, rural residents and those with disabilities get more of a break.

The increase in the threshold is intended to keep the percentage of homes that are eligible for the grant stable.

Around here, of course, not many of us can afford $1.65-million homes, but in places like Vancouver, that kind of price is common.

I have a question for the provincial government about the homeowner grant, though. Call me naïve, but why do we have to apply for it every year? I know the political answer, I’m just wondering about the common sense one.

The homeowner grant was invented in 1957 by then-Premier W.A.C. Bennett as a benefit to those he referred to as “the little people.”

It is, basically, a provincial tax exemption on property taxes collected by local governments. The only purpose of having to apply for it annually is to remind us which government is bestowing upon us this largesse.

But at what administrative cost, let alone the needless inconvenience?

I say, an application should be needed only once per owner per primary residence — which would save the government some money and us the bother.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5870 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – We shouldn’t have to apply for homeowner grant every year

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Have wondered for years why on earth we have to go though this song-and-dance every year. Also how many poor souls miss out on the grant for one reason or another.

    From the City’s webpage:

    PLEASE NOTE: Home Owner Grant applications must be filed annually. Any applications that are incomplete, unclaimed, or late will result in penalty charges. Grants that are not claimed are considered equivalent to unpaid taxes and subject to penalty charges.

  2. Dave Monsees // January 4, 2018 at 6:29 AM // Reply

    l think it would be an error to encourage it to become an automatic thing every year. By sending out the application, it is always in front of us. It would be too easy for the government of the day to conveniently “forget” this deduction. While it makes good business sense to make it an automatic thing on filling out a one time form, it would be too easy to steal away. Talking about forms and signatures, how about stream lining all the signatures on applying for your license plates, ..” initial here, sign here” on all 5 copies?

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