Please note this post is only applicable to British-Columbia. However, most provincial governments have property tax deferral programs in place.
If you’re a home owner, chances are you’ve already received your property tax notice. Most municipalities, if not all, give you until July 2nd to pay. But what if you can’t pay?
The province of BC has 2 property tax deferral programs that I’ll explain in a moment.
First, claim the home-owner grant
If your property value is below $ 1 525 000 and is your principal residence, you qualify for the home-owner grant offered by the provincial government.
The basic amount is $ 570. Depending on your personal situation and the location of the property, it could be higher.
The money is not given to you, but applied directly to your property tax invoice.
A deferral is a postponement. The amount is not forgiven or written-off. You agree to pay it later on. Instead of owing a municipality, you owe the provincial government.
The BC government will pay your property tax on your behalf. It will place a lien on your property.
You don’t have to repay until you’re ready, but you will be charged interests between 1.95% and 3.95%, depending on the program.
If you sell the property, you will have to repay the government at the time of conveyance.
You need to re-apply every year to stay in the program.
Programs at a glance
BC has 2 programs to defer property tax: one for people over 55 or people with disabilities, and one for families with children.
More details can be found here.
The core requirements are that the property needs to be your principal residence and your property tax account must be current when you apply. You cannot owe back taxes from previous years.
For the families with children program, you need to have at least 15% home equity.
Be sure to apply before July 2nd. You should apply as soon as you receive your tax invoice, if you don’t qualify for the home owner grant, or as soon as the grant has been applied to your invoice.
If you find yourself in a bind, financially, you can apply for your property taxes to be deferred, if you qualify.
However, property taxes are a normal expense for any home-owner, and should be budgeted accordingly. Many municipalities offer a monthly pre-payment program. Take advantage of it, to avoid a big lump-sum payment.