Homeowner grant upped

Rising property assessments have prompted the B.C. government to increase the threshold for receiving the homeowner grant.

Owners of homes worth up to $950,000 may be eligible for the full grant this year, up from the previous maximum value of $780,000. The grant provides a discount of $570 a year on property tax, with an additional grant of $275 for eligible homeowners over 65, the permanently disabled and war veterans. The move follows a real estate boom year that saw total property value in B.C. rise 24 per cent, including new construction.

Finance Minister Carole Taylor says the change will allow 41,000 more homeowners to collect the full grant. The grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value above the threshold, so it falls to zero for homes valued at just over $1 million.

The change is part of Taylor’s 2007 budget, being prepared for release in February. In the 2006 budget, the amount of the basic grant was increased to $570 from $470.

“Higher property value assessments are certainly a mark of our economic strength in British Columbia and demonstrate that this is truly a desirable place to live,” Taylor said. “On the other hand, higher values don’t always translate into more money in people’s pockets.”

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