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

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 4, 2018 - 6:49am

KAMLOOPS — 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.