The province has released details of a new tax rebate available to seniors, but Peter Nielsen of A Voice for Cariboo Seniors said it’s just not enough.
The tax credit is available to seniors or family members sharing their home.
Family members who qualify according to the province are child, grandchild or other family member including brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews but not necessarily cousins or distant relatives.
Starting in 2012, those who are 65 before the end of the taxation year are eligible for up to $1,000 of tax credit.
To qualify for the credit, an expenditure needs to be part of a renovation or alteration of a “qualifying principal residence” of a senior or land on which they reside.
The province has listed the following as examples of qualifying expenditures:
• upgrades to improve accessibility, including handrails, grab bars, walk-in bathtubs, wheel-in showers and raised toilets;
• motion activated lighting;
• certain renovations to allow a first floor occupancy or secondary suite for a senior relative;
• widening passage doors;
• lowering existing counters/cupboards;
• installing adjustable counters/cupboards;
• hands-free taps;
• door locks that are easy to operate;
• light switches;
• non-slip flooring in the bathroom;
Some expeditures are not eligible for the tax credit, including general maintenance, appliances, landscaping and vehicles adapted for people with mobility limitations.
Although Nielsen said this tax credit is a step in the right direction, he pointed out it isn’t helping many seniors who desperately need renovations in their homes.
“I think it’s a good thing, but it’s only good for people with high income,” Nielsen explained.
“It’s helping people who are above average for income, it’s really helping to do the renovations to their house, to make it wheelchair accessible, renovate the bathroom with bars and what not.”
Nielsen said there’s a problem for seniors who need the credit but don’t have the money to initially pay for the renovations.
“The credit is no good for low income seniors,” he said.
“If you’re only making $16,000 – $20,000 a year, you’re strapped for cash and to lay that money out initially is almost impossible.
“If you’re that low income, with what tax credits are available, you’re just about maxed out.”
To view the BC Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit in its entirety, visit http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/individuals/income_taxes/personal_income_tax/tax_credits/seniors_home_reno.htm.