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Seniors Urged to Defer Property Taxes to Help Meet Expenses

As many elderly residents struggle to make ends meet, BC’s seniors advocate suggests those who own homes investigate deferring their annual property tax payment for 2023.

Isobel Mackenzie says taking advantage of the Provincial Tax Deferral Program could provide up to $500 a month in extra cash.

Homeowners who are 55-years old or older can defer all or some of their annual property taxes. The province pays the tax to the local government on their behalf and the deferred taxes are repaid to the province when the home is sold.

She says the option is not a panacea, “but this program is available now and can bring relief to some struggling seniors.”

Mackenzie says eight of ten seniors with low or modest incomes report that it’s hard to keep up with rising costs.

Nearly half of seniors in the province “live on an income that is less than minimum wage,” and Mackenzie says the extra money could help pay for the costs of aging “such as medications, mobility aids, personal care support and other activities of daily living,” which are vital as people get older.

She says her office is working with the provincial government on relieving the housing cost burdens for senior citizens.

That work includes both trying to provide significant relief for renters and expanding the Provincial Tax Deferral Program.

She hopes the government can improve assistance in the future.

The best time to apply for a deferral is after receiving a tax notice, but before taxes are due to avoid facing late payment penalties.

In its Monitoring Seniors Services 2022 report, the Office of the Seniors Advocate says homeowners deferred a total of $307 million in property taxes in 2021 and 2022.

The advocate’s office also reports:  

  • Over the last five years, there has been a 49% decrease in the number of new users of the Property Tax Deferral Program.
  • 1 in 2 low-income seniors reports they are concerned, or very concerned, about being able to stay in their own home as they age.
  • 49% of low-income senior homeowners report they cannot afford major repairs for safety or accessibility.
  • 84% of low-income seniors report running out of money to buy food some of the time.
  • There was a 78% increase in use of food banks by B.C. seniors over the last five years.
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