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B.C. seniors homeowner tax deferral program now open

A program to help B.C. seniors handle their homeowner taxes through deferral options is now open for applications.
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The Office of the Seniors Advocate recently conducted a survey of low-income seniors and found that while almost half were homeowners, less than 15% of those surveyed used the property tax deferral program despite struggling to pay other household expenses.

B.C. homeowners 55 years and older can now apply to defer this year’s property tax payments through a provincial program.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the property tax deferral program could act as a lifeline for lower-income seniors — if they are aware of it.

“Through this program, the province will pay the property tax to local government on behalf of the homeowner and save some seniors thousands of dollars each year,” she said in a statement.

Mackenzie said her office recently conducted a survey of low-income seniors and found that while almost half were homeowners, less than 15 per cent of those surveyed used the program despite struggling to pay other household expenses.

The window to apply for program coverage runs until Dec. 31. Local government tax notices contain property information required to complete the online application process.

Seniors are advised that applying for the program early could help in avoiding missed payment penalties that could be levied by local governments if property taxes aren’t paid by the July 4 deadline.

The province also encourages homeowners to use the eTaxBC application to view the status of their application well in advance of the tax deadline to help ensure they don’t face any late penalties.

The Monitoring Seniors Services 2021 report from the Office of the Seniors Advocate shows that 65,505 B.C. seniors deferred their property taxes in 2020-21. The average homeowner deferred $4,297 in 2020-21 and paid only $51.56 in interest using the deferral program.

That report also showed that while the value of deferred taxes under the program is growing each year, there were 15% fewer new users in 2020-21 compared to the previous year.