VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some wealthy homeowners are taking advantage of the province’s property tax deferral program.
Michael Geller is an architect, planner, real estate consultant and property developer in Vancouver. He’s used the program for six years and has differed $60,000.
“This is such a good deal, it’s foolish for taxpayers to pass it up because most people can invest that money that they’re not paying in taxes and get a better return than less than one per cent. The reason I’m drawing attention to it is not because I want people to take advantage of the provincial government, but to point out that this is a program that should be reconsidered.”
He wants to see the province link tax deferrals to people’s incomes.
According to the government’s website, some homeowners may be able to apply for a low-interest loan after property tax notices are received.
There are two programs people can apply for. The regular program is available for those 55 or older, surviving spouses of any age, or people with disabilities. The interest rate for the regular program is 0.85%.
There’s also a Families with Children Program, which is available for parents, stepparents or those who are financially supporting a child. The interest rate is listed at 2.85%.
NDP Housing Critic David Eby agrees with some of Geller’s points but says the programs should stay in place.
“For every person that’s taking unfair advantage of the program, there’s at least one person who needs the program to stay in their home.”
Eby does admit the province could make improvements. “These programs are dated. Many of them are ineffective for what they’re intended to do and there’s an opportunity to make them better, more effective, and better targeted.”
About 36,000 people used the program last year.
We have contacted the Ministry of Finance for comment – but have not received a response yet.