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B.C. seniors urged to defer property taxes by advocate amid rising cost of living

Click to play video: 'Seniors encouraged to defer property taxes'
Seniors encouraged to defer property taxes
Property tax deferrals amongst seniors are rising dramatically in this province as those on fixed incomes try to keep their lives affordable. As Aaron McArthur reports, B.C.'s Seniors Advocate encourages everyone who qualifies to apply – May 28, 2024

More seniors across B.C. have been deferring their property taxes while dealing with the rising cost of living.

B.C.’s Senior Advocate, Dan Levitt, said on Tuesday that while he has been travelling around the province, the number one issue he has heard from older people is their struggle with affordability.

“In B.C., 80 per cent of seniors own their own homes, compared to 70 per cent of the overall population,” Levitt said. “The vast majority of seniors want to age in place and remain in their homes. However, in many B.C. communities, there are very few or no condominiums or apartments available if a senior wants to downsize. The costs of home ownership such as taxes, maintenance and insurance are often equal to, or in some cases, greater than rents.”

Click to play video: 'Coquitlam man speaks out after SkyTrain property tax hike'
Coquitlam man speaks out after SkyTrain property tax hike

Paul Sullivan, property tax agent with Ryan Tax Firm in Vancouver, said they have already seen a spike in tax deferment in the past five years, from $800 million to $1.6 billion in value.

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“That means the government owns $1.6 billion of homeowners’ equity in British Columbia because they can’t afford to pay the taxes,” Sullivan added.

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Levitt said that when it comes to seniors, 49 per cent of those in the low-income bracket said they cannot afford any major repairs for safety or accessibility at this time.

Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: push for property tax deferral program expansion'
Consumer Matters: push for property tax deferral program expansion

B.C.’s Property Tax Deferral Program allows eligible homeowners 55+, surviving spouses and persons with disabilities to defer paying their property taxes until the homeowner passes away or sells the property.

“Since 2019, the Consumer Price Index has risen 15.1 per cent in B.C. and seniors with fixed incomes are feeling the pressure when buying food, medical supplies and prescriptions, home support, personal care and other necessities of life. Deferring property taxes could save older homeowners up to $400 or more each month which could be spent on maintenance or modifying a residence to help a senior remain in their home longer,” Levitt said.

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