Tax break aimed at poor and disabled

Programs cancel, defer 4% hike if you qualify

Apr 02, 2009 04:30 AM

city hall bureau chiefWith residential property taxes set to rise 4 per cent in Toronto, city council has approved changes to two tax relief programs, allowing more people to qualify for a deferral or even cancellation of the tax increase.The programs give a break on the tax hike to homeowners – mostly low-income seniors and disabled people – who meet specific criteria. (Those whose taxes decrease as a result of property reassessment aren't eligible.)One of the few proposed changes to the city's $8.7 billion operating budget that stuck during Tuesday's debate was Councillor Anthony Perruzza's motion to raise the household-income threshold to qualify for the cancellation program.Last year, only households earning $26,000 or less qualified for the program. Under the amendment, households earning up to $36,000 may qualify.To further qualify to have your tax increase cancelled, you must be either:65 or older;60-64 and receiving the guaranteed income supplement or spousal allowance; ordisabled and receiving disability benefits.The assessed value of your home cannot be more than $525,000 – up from $454,000 last year. And the owner must have lived in the home for at least one year.Low-income seniors and disabled people earning under $50,000 a year may qualify for a deferral, meaning the tax increase doesn't have to be paid until they sell the home.Acting treasurer Giuliana Carbone said the deferral program – essentially an interest-free loan until the property is sold – has been in place since 1998, while the cancellation program has existed since 2003.Details on how to apply will be included with tax bills mailed out in May. The deadline to apply for both programs is Aug. 31.

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