Property Tax Deferment Program British Columbia

deferring your property taxes in british columbia

Many BC homeowners have questions about how and when you can defer your property taxes If you are a home owner in British Columbia your property tax notice provides information including how much your property taxes are, when they are due, and how you can claim a home owner grant.

In 2017, the due date for property taxes is July 4. If you fail to pay your taxes by that date, a 5.0% minimum penalty is levied on any amount outstanding.  It should also be noted that some municipalities have increased the penalty. For example, the penalty is 10% in the City of Victoria.

If you qualify and your property meets certain eligibility requirements, you may be able to defer your property taxes. If you choose to defer the taxes, a lien is registered against the title to your property which will remain on title until the amount owing is paid in full. A $60 fee is also charged for the deferral and interest will be charged on the deferred amount.  The interest rates are set every six months by the Minister of Finance.

There are two deferral programs: (1) the regular program and (2) the program for families with children.

THE REGULAR PROGRAM

You may qualify for the regular program if you are:

  • 55 years of age or older (only one spouse needs to qualify);
  • a surviving spouse, regardless of age (i.e. you have lost your spouse by death and are not the spouse of any other individual); or
  • a person with disabilities.

There are also several other requirements, including but not limited to the following: you must be a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident; you must be a registered owner of the property; you must have and maintain a minimum equity of 25% of the property’s assessed value; and you must have paid all previous year’s property taxes, utility user fees, penalties and interest, if any.

Your property may not qualify for the program in certain circumstances. For instance, your property doesn’t qualify for tax deferment if it’s a second residence such as a summer home or rental home or if you pay the property taxes for the residence to a First Nation.

THE FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN PROGRAM

For the families with children program, you may qualify if you are:

  • a parent;
  • a stepparent; or
  • financially supporting a child or stepchild.

There are also several other requirements, including but not limited to the following: you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; you must be a registered owner of the property; you must have and maintain a minimum equity of 15% of the property’s assessed value; and you must have paid all previous years’ property taxes, utility user fees, penalties and interest.

The same qualifications for the property apply to this program as do for the regular program set out previously.

It can take up to several months for the tax deferment applications to be processed. You may not get a response until after the property tax due date. If the application is received before the property tax due date but is approved after the due date, you may not be charged a late payment penalty.

You may however be charged a late payment penalty if:

  • your application is made after the property tax due date;
  • your application isn’t approved and it is past the property tax due date;
  • you fail to provide the required information;
  • you sell your home before the taxes are paid on your behalf; or
  • if you cancel or withdraw your application for any reason at any time before the taxes are paid.

Always see a qualified lawyer or accountant when making decisions about deferring your property taxes. The professionals who are members of Business for Business Networks are part of a trusted community.

At Sitka Law Group, we each bring our unique experiences and understanding to your file. We combine our individual knowledge and experience to collectively serve you, our client, creating a team environment that works to achieve the best outcomes possible. While our lawyers do work collectively, you will always have a primary contact; a lawyer from our team who you can contact at your convenience should you have questions of any kind. Our goal is to create an environment that you feel comfortable and relaxed in, so that together we are better able to tackle the legal issues or requirements at hand.

What Is Probate?

A common question lawyers are frequently asked is, “what is probate?” When someone passes away in British Columbia, typically the deceased’s sole assets (i.e. bank accounts and property) cannot be dealt with until the deceased’s personal representative (i.e. the executor if there is a will and the administrator if there is no will) applies to the court for a Grant of Probate.

A Grant of Probate is essentially a certificate issued by the court that certifies that the deceased’s will is valid. Financial institutions and the Land Title Office generally require that the executor produce a Grant of Probate, prior to allowing the executor to deal with the deceased’s assets.

In order to have the court certify that the will is valid, the executor must submit a number of documents to the court for the court’s review. These often include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • An affidavit which has general information about the deceased, the executor and the probate application;
  • An affidavit of the executor stating the amount and location of the deceased’s assets and liabilities; and
  • An affidavit stating that the beneficiaries have been made aware of the probate application.

A notice is then provided to the beneficiaries notifying them of the probate application and their rights. Once the court has reviewed and approved the probate application, the court will advise the executor what probate fees are payable by the deceased’s estate. Once the probate fees are paid, the Grant of Probate will be issued and the executor may begin dealing with the deceased’s assets by:

  • Calling in (or liquidating) assets;
  • Paying debts of the deceased and the estate;
  • Paying taxes for the deceased and the estate;
  • Distributing assets to the beneficiaries; and
  • Applying for a clearance certificate from CRA.

If someone passes without a will, the process described may still be required (depending on whether the deceased individual had any assets in his or her sole name and the value of such assets); however, rather than applying for a Grant of “Probate,” an interested party would need to apply to a court to (a) be appointed as the “administrator” (as opposed to the “executor”) of the deceased’s estate and (b) to request that the court issue a Grant of “Administration” (as opposed to a Grant of “Probate”).

This is a brief summary of one of several steps involved in dealing with a deceased individual’s assets. Lawyers specializing in this work, not only act as legal counsel for executors of estates but we also act as executors for estates.

At Sitka Law Group, we each bring our unique experiences and understanding to your file. We combine our individual knowledge and experience to collectively serve you, our client, creating a team environment that works to achieve the best outcomes possible. While our lawyers do work collectively, you will always have a primary contact; a lawyer from our team who you can contact at your convenience should you have questions of any kind. Our goal is to create an environment that you feel comfortable and relaxed in, so that together we are better able to tackle the legal issues or requirements at hand.