Starting in 2021, BC homeowners will apply for their homeowner grant through the province, not their municipality, which will make applying for the grant quicker and easier.
City of Powell River chief financial officer Adam Langenmaier said having the province take over the process should streamline matters for the city at tax time.
“It was another step,” said Langenmaier. “You’d pay your taxes, then you’d claim the grant and we’d send them off to the province.”
He said with the change, the city will likely still get a bunch of questions, but it’s one less thing the city has to do at tax time. He said he’s hoping the province has good support for people who are applying and don’t have a computer to make the claim online.
Minister of finance Selina Robinson stated in a media release that by administering the grant centrally, the process will be simpler for people and less of a burden for local governments.
“With this change, we can provide all British Columbians a secure online application and access to services, such as phone-based support, while removing the need for them to go to their municipal office,” stated Robinson.
The homeowner grant program provides tax relief to BC homeowners each year. The change to provincial administration will streamline the process and ensure everyone who is eligible receives a reduction in their annual property taxes, the release stated.
Prior to this change, local governments administered the program in municipalities and the province administered the rural grant program. Budget 2020 announced centralization of the program following discussions with municipalities that told government administration the yearly grant program is a burden, the release stated.
“For decades, the homeowner grant was successfully administered through a partnership between the province and local government partners, but as the program grew, it became a larger responsibility for our municipal partners,” stated minister of municipal affairs Josie Osborne. “Streamlining this program will allow municipalities to focus on other critical municipal services people rely on.”
Annual tax notices will continue to be sent by municipalities but will include a link to the province’s online grant application. Homeowners should apply once they receive their property tax notice. If they have not yet applied for their 2020 grant, they can do so retroactively now at gov.bc.ca/homeownergrant.
“For more than a year, local government and ministry of finance staff have been working together to ensure the smooth transition of this program to the provincial government,” stated Brian Frenkel, president of the Union of BC Municipalities. “This change will provide administrative improvements requested by local government and supports the implementation of the provincial housing plan.”
BC municipalities have helped the province administer the homeowner grant program following its introduction in 1957.