FREDERICTON (CNB) – Seniors could defer future property tax increases so they could stay in their homes longer under amendments to the Real Property Tax Act introduced by the provincial government.

"After consulting with seniors groups, stakeholders and the public, it was clear that we needed property tax relief for those seniors who required it, while staying on track with our government renewal goal of providing efficient programs at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers," said Finance Minister Blaine Higgs. "This program achieves both goals."

Seniors 65 or older who own a principal residence and receive the Residential Property Tax Credit could be eligible for the program. It would allow seniors who are experiencing financial difficulty to apply to defer their annual increase in property taxes. Seniors would be able to take advantage of this relief through a one-time application process.
"Many seniors have seen their assessments increase,” said Higgs. “These measures would ensure that seniors who are having difficulty making their payments could defer those payments and, as a result, stay in their homes longer."

The deferred taxes with interest would be payable to the provincial government upon change of ownership of the property. Should the senior wish to pay one or more years of deferred taxes, this could be accomplished through an application. In the case of death of the qualifying senior, the tax deferral could be extended to the surviving spouse for as long as he or she continues to live in the house.

"As a government, it is our goal to help New Brunswickers care for their families,” said Higgs. “That is why we are going to make sure that the deferral is extended to surviving spouses so they are able to stay in their homes as well."

The program would include an income test. For most seniors, the deferred amounts would accrue annual interest at the rate of 3.25 per cent. For senior homeowners with a taxable family income of more than $124,178, the annual interest rate would be 8.25 per cent.
The program would be evaluated in five years to determine its effectiveness and adjusted as necessary. The interest rate on all deferred accounts would be set every year at the provincial government’s 10-year borrowing rate.
Seniors registered in the program could deregister at any time through an application. Participants would receive a statement of their deferral account every year.
For the first year of registration in the program, applications would be accepted from March 1 to Dec. 31.